Middle East

Abbas says PA to no longer abide by accords with Israel, US

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority will no longer be committed to any signed agreements with Israel or the United States, following Israel’s pledge to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.

It was not immediately clear how the announcement, which was made at a Palestinian leadership meeting late on Tuesday, would be implemented. The Oslo accords and other agreements in the 1990s created the Palestinian Authority and govern its political, economic and security relations with Israel.

“The Palestinian Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are no longer committed to all signed agreements and understandings with the Israeli government and the American government, including the security commitments,” Abbas said.

He said Israel would now have to “uphold responsibilities before the international community as the occupying power.”

He also announced that the Palestinians would step up their campaign to join international organizations as a member state, in defiance of the US.

There was no immediate reaction from Israel or the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the West Bank in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which overwhelmingly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians.

Netanyahu formed a new Israeli government earlier this month with his chief rival, Benny Gantz, following three elections and more than a year of gridlock. The coalition agreement allows Netanyahu to present an annexation proposal to the government as soon as July 1.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want all three territories for their future state, but the Trump plan would leave them with scattered clusters of enclaves surrounded by Israel.

Most of the international community is opposed to annexation, which many fear would make it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. A two-state solution based on the 1967 lines is still widely seen as the only way of resolving the decades-long conflict.

It’s unclear whether Abbas, who has made similar threats in the past, will follow through on the latest announcement. The security coordination serves the interests of both Abbas and Israel because it is largely aimed at the Islamic militant group Hamas, his main rival.

Israeli forces are deployed across the West Bank and frequently carry out arrest raids in Palestinian cities and towns. They typically coordinate these operations with Palestinian security forces to prevent any clashes with them.

Palestinian security forces, as well as senior officials traveling in armed convoys, must also coordinate with Israel in order to move around the West Bank or to enter and exit the territory via the crossing with neighboring Jordan, which is under Israeli control.

Security coordination broke down during the 2000-2005 intifada, or Palestinian uprising. But Abbas has always been opposed to violence, and Palestinian forces are likely continue to act against any armed groups, even without formal coordination with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority governs and provides basic services to heavily populated areas of the occupied West Bank. Dismantling it would risk chaos and leave tens of thousands of civil servants unemployed. But by referring to the “state of Palestine,” Abbas appeared to leave room for it to continue in its present form under a different, and contested, name.

Still, the agreements with Israel govern nearly all its basic functions, including the issuance of passports and other official documents. Israel also collects taxes and customs duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, its main source of revenue.


Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Image: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool Photo via AP)

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