Abbas Calls a Halt to all Palestinian Authority Agreements with Israel, US

May 20, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Wednesday, 20 May 2020 | Fuming over Israeli officials’ push to apply sovereignty over land in Judea and Samaria, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared that all agreements with the Israeli and US governments are “absolved.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at the swearing in of the new Knesset (Parliament) on Sunday that one of the new government’s priorities is annexing land in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley as part of President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Abu Mazen, as Abbas is known among the Palestinians, met with his compatriots in the PA’s de facto capital of Ramallah to respond to the announcement. He vowed to halt all cooperation with Israel and the US, “including the security ones,” hinting that PA security forces would no longer cooperate with the Israel Defense Forces or other Israeli security agencies.

This isn’t the first time Abbas has made such a promise, and it probably won’t be the last. The Palestinian leader made a similar announcement earlier this year following the release of the “deal of the century” peace plan. Nothing came of that announcement, which is leading many Israelis—and Palestinians—to assume this is another cry of wolf.

An unnamed Palestinian official who attended the meeting in Ramallah told Haaretz that Abbas may intend to follow through on his promise but has not yet “closed the door” and that it is not a sure thing that the PA will in fact stop cooperating with Israel on security matters.

A former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of the defense ministry’s organization to coordinate with Palestinians wrote off Abbas’s threat as harmless. “He’s just ratcheting up the threat level,” Eitan Dangot said in a radio interview. “Abbas won’t take a practical step and is trying to put pressure on Israel.”

Abbas also called for the international community to “take deterrent steps and impose serious sanctions to prevent the Israeli occupation state from implementing its schemes.” He also vowed that the PA will continue to hassle the Jewish state in international courts, specifically mentioning the International Criminal Court, which is currently pursuing a probe into the IDF’s so-called war crimes.

Israel’s new defense minister, Benny Gantz, vowed earlier this week that he will implement President Trump’s peace plan “and everything it contains.”

Gantz—who will also serve as alternate prime minister until November 2021 when he will swap places with Netanyahu and assume the role of Israeli premier—has voiced his concerns over annexation in the past. It was a sticking point during the unity negotiations with Netanyahu, who had campaigned hard on promises of annexation. Gantz eventually backed down and waived his veto right on the issue, paving the way for Netanyahu to begin implementing it as early as July.

The issue has drawn criticism from European and Arab nations, and the European Union is discussing possible measures to discourage Israel from moving forward.

Posted on May 20, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 20, 2020)

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