US denies telling banks to stop working with Palestinians

Palestinians believe eastern parts of Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019

US denies telling banks to stop working with Palestinians

  • Palestinian officials said the US asked banks to stop working with Palestinian Authorities
  • The US decreased annual aid to Palestinians by more than $500 million after increasing tensions between the two after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

RAMALLAH: The United States has denied accusations it is pressuring banks to stop dealing with the Palestinian government, whose relations with Washington have been plummeting.
Several Palestinian officials have accused the US of trying to force banks not to deal with transactions linked to the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.
“The United States has not requested that foreign donors restrict assistance to the Palestinians, nor has it requested that financial institutions cease transfers to Palestinian Authority (PA) bank accounts,” a US official told AFP late Monday.
“We are aware of media reports suggesting this has occurred. Those reports are incorrect.”
On Sunday, senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh charged that Washington was launching a “financial siege” on the PA.
“Major international financial institutions and parties have begun to accede to an American request to impose a tight financial siege on the Palestinian Authority,” he told AFP.
“Washington has asked for financial aid given to the authority to be stopped, and it has also issued a circular to banks not to receive transfers for the authority’s accounts.”
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki has said on local radio that the US was using “all means to press Arab countries to stop financial support for our people.”
Relations between the US and the Palestinians have broken down since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017.
The Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city their capital and have boycotted the Trump administration since.
In response the US has cut more than $500 million in annual aid to the Palestinians, mostly to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.
The cuts have worsened long term financial shortfalls for the PA, which is heavily reliant on international aid.


Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

Updated 23 August 2019

Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

  • Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects
  • Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years

JERUSALEM: A rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said.
Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects.
Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod.
Medics from the Magen David Adom rescue service initially gave the ages of the two wounded as 46 and 20, before amending to 21 in the latter case.
The army said the three victims were a father and his two children.
The two wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital, the army said.
“Three civilians who were in a nearby spring were injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,” it said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “harsh terrorist attack” and sent condolences to the family, while pledging to continue building settlements.
“The security arms are in pursuit after the abhorrent terrorists,” he said in a statement.
“We will apprehend them. The long arm of Israel reaches all those who seek our lives and will settle accounts with them.”
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the “shocking, heinous” attack, saying there was nothing heroic in Shnerb’s “murder,” calling it a “despicable, cowardly act.”
“Terror must be unequivocally condemned by ALL,” Mladenov wrote on Twitter.
Israeli forces meanwhile entered the Palestinian village of Beitunia, south of the spring, to take footage from surveillance cameras.
An AFP reporter said Palestinians clashed there with Israeli soldiers, but no casualties were reported.
Chief of the army, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited the site of the attack to understand the incident and oversee the efforts to locate the perpetrators, which he was “confident” would happen quickly, the military said.
Later in the day, Shnerb was buried in her hometown Lod, with thousands participating in the funeral.
Shnerb’s father Eitan, who was wounded and couldn’t attend the funeral, relayed through an uncle his request that people focus on “our strength and love and the wonderful nation and our good land” and avoid sinking into “weakness and anger and strife.”
“We should be worthy of the great sacrifice we offered today,” Eitan Shnerb was cited by the uncle as saying.
In a speech on Friday, Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.
He referred to a recent clash between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and sought to draw a link between the two incidents.
AFP reporters said thousands of Gazans participated in weekly Friday protests at the Israeli border fence, with some youths using slingshots to launch stones at the barrier and a few approaching it.
The health ministry in the enclave said over 122 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces, dozens of them hit by live fire.
Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years.
Palestinian attacks have mostly involved guns, knives and car ramming.
There have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run up to Israel’s September 17 general election.
A week ago, a Palestinian carried out a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, wounding two Israelis before being shot dead.
On August 8, an off-duty Israeli soldier’s body was found with multiple stab wounds. Two Palestinian suspects were later arrested.
Late Thursday, a Palestinian threw grenades at Israeli soldiers while attempting to cross the Gaza border and was shot by Israeli forces, leaving him wounded, the army and the Gaza health ministry said.
Gaza militants have also launched six missiles at Israel in the past week; the most recent were on Wednesday.
In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip.”