Cynicism over Abbas threats to sever Israel ties

Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

THE Palestinian President will pull the plug on agreements signed with Israel, he said in a televised speech.

If Mahmoud Abbas carries through on his declaration, it will mean the end of Palestinian-Israeli security coordination, which is believed to have enabled the IDF to foil numerous terror attacks. 

All other arrangements that govern the Israeli-Palestinian cooperation could be on the line too. Mahmoud Abbas said that his leadership will “stop implementing the agreements signed with the Israeli side”.

Abbas made his declaration amid Palestinian anger after Israel demolished apartment blocks that had been deemed illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court on the outskirts of Eastern Jerusalem. 

Hamas, which has long mocked Abbas and his Palestinian Authority as existing in Israel’s pocket, is urging them to go through with the plan. “The time has come to put words into action,” Hamas said in a statement. “We look forward to the ending of all cooperation with Israel, which will allow the Palestinian people to declare their freedom from the occupation.”

But many Palestinians are saying they have difficulty taking the declaration seriously, and feel a sense of deja vu. In 2014, Abbas said he would rethink security cooperation if the UN Security Council didn’t recognise Palestine as a state. 

In 2015, the PLO, which he heads, voted to actually end security cooperation, but nothing changed. And last year the PLO voted to stop recognising Israel and end all agreements between the Palestinians and Israel. 

Some experts say that if Abbas implements his plan it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas, as the PA gets its power and the massive financial aid packages because of its ability to keep channels open with Israel. 

“They may make certain selective decisions but they won’t go and stop all agreements,” Ghassan Khatib, a political scientist from Birzeit University near Ramallah, told The AJN. “To do so would be like dissolving the Palestinian Authority.”

Khatib, who knows the Palestinian political scene well from a stint he spent as government spokesman, said that Abbas was making a “political statement” rather than an implementable practical decision. He commented, “The decision was not taken seriously by the public. It was received with sarcasm because people know it’s not practical.”