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Abbas: PA no longer bound by accords with Israel and US, including on security

Railing against Netanyahu’s vow to annex parts of West Bank, Palestinian leader declares Israeli authorities must resume responsibility for Palestinian civilian population

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/Pool/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/Pool/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he was terminating all agreements with Israel and the United States, including security cooperation with the Jewish state, over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to annex parts of the West Bank.

In a speech to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, Abbas also said Israel would have to assume responsibility for the civilian Palestinian population.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas said during a meeting of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, according to a copy of his remarks from the PA’s official Wafa news agency.

Abbas has on dozens of occasions previously threatened to tear up all agreements with Israel, and it was unclear whether his declaration Tuesday would be implemented or have any practical effect.

The two governments work together on matters ranging from water to security, and withdrawing from agreements could impact security in the West Bank. If the Palestinians were to dissolve the PA, tens of thousands of public workers would lose their jobs.

“The Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine, with all its consequences and repercussions based on international law and international humanitarian law,” Abbas said.

In his speech, Abbas pointed to the coalition agreement between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, which allows the new government to annex areas designated for Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan as soon as July 1.

US President Donald Trump, left, listens as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 28, 2020, to announce the Trump administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Abbas claimed Netanyahu’s remarks Monday over the planned extension of Israeli sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley meant Israel had “annulled” the 1993 Oslo Accords, which established the PA and kicked off the decades-long peace process.

He faulted the Trump administration for its 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decision to move the US embassy there, while railing against its peace proposal.

“We hold the American administration fully responsible for the oppression befalling the Palestinian people and we consider it a primary partner with the Israeli occupation government in all its aggressive and unfair decisions and measures against our people,” Abbas said.

Since late 2017, the Trump administration has made several moves seen as marginalizing the Palestinians: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy in the Jewish state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and closing the PLO representative office in Washington.

He also said the “State of Palestine” would immediately join international organizations and agreements that it hasn’t already.

The Palestinians are currently members of dozens of international organizations, protocols and conventions, part of a campaign to gain unilateral recognition of their nascent state as peace talks with Israel have grown moribund.

The Palestinians maintain that their moves to join international organizations advance their goal of achieving statehood and strengthen their international standing.

However, Israel holds that Palestinian efforts to gain membership in international bodies constitute one-sided measures aimed at achieving statehood while bypassing peace negotiations and undermining the Jewish state’s status in the international community.

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed in Washington in 1995, sought to put into practice the first Oslo peace deal agreed two years earlier. Sometimes called Oslo II, the interim agreement set out the scope of Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. The interim pact was only supposed to last five years while a permanent agreement was finalized but it has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades.

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