The Foreign Ministry has instructed all of Israel's embassies to reject any official letter that includes what it referred to as problematic terms, such as the "state of Palestine,' Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth have learned.
On Thursday the UN General Assembly is expected to accept the Palestinian Authority's request to upgrade its status to that of a non-member observer state, but the Foreign Ministry is not waiting until the vote to protest the initiative.
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The directive was distributed among Israeli embassies abroad by Foreign Ministry employee Galia Levanon, who said Israeli embassies have been receiving official letters from international organizations and local foreign ministries that include the phrases "occupied Palestine," "occupied Jerusalem," "occupied territories" and "the state of Palestine."
Levanon instructed Israeli diplomats abroad to return any letters containing "problematic terminology" to the sender and ask that they be revised. The embassies were told to accept letters containing the phrase "Palestinian Authority territories."
After their drive for full UN membership failed in the UN Security Council last year amid US opposition, the Palestinians have launched a watered-down bid for recognition as a "non-member state," similar to the Vatican's UN status.
This request can be approved by the 193-nation UN General Assembly and is likely to pass.
Washington says it favors eventual statehood for the Palestinians, but wants it to come as a result of negotiations with Israel. The United States can block full recognition of Palestine as a UN member at the Security Council, where it has a veto.
On Thursday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius indicated support for the Palestinians, reminding the French Senate of a campaign promise for international recognition of a Palestinian state made by President Francois Hollande.
An official in Jerusalem said Israel would respond to the Palestinian initiative "at the right time and with the right amount of force." He said one of Israel's options is to use some of the NIS 700 million ($180M) in taxes Israel collects for the Palestinians to pay off the Authority's debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.
The official said Israel would avoid taking harsh measures that would draw international criticism, such as "building tens of thousands of housing units in the territories," and would instead act "in accordance with the agreements it has signed."
Reuters contributed to the report