Israeli government yesterday took punitive measures against the UN cultural agency Unesco for admitting Palestine as a member-state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a halt to the country's participation in Unesco, including its annual payment of $2 million, following Unesco's decision, which he said "doesn't advance peace, but makes it more distant," according to a text message from his office yesterday.

Israel announced on Tuesday that it will issue tenders for new colonies in the West Bank, and said it is going to suspend transfer of tax payments totalling some $100 million to the Palestinian National Authority. "This is Palestinian money and not Israeli, and therefore I say this is piracy and theft," Ahmad Al Teibi, head of the Arab Movement for Change and a Knesset member told Gulf News. "Israel gets 3 per cent for collecting it."