Abbas: PLO to review agreements with Israel, could abrogate many of them

PA president says Ramallah could also cancel deals with the US because of its opening of embassy in Jerusalem, other sanctions

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestine TV, the official PA television station. (Screenshot: Facebook)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestine TV, the official PA television station. (Screenshot: Facebook)

A top Palestine Liberation Organization body will be reviewing agreements that the Palestinians had concluded with Israel, and could decide to abrogate many of them, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a television interview.

Abbas made the comments days before the Palestinian Central Council, a PLO decision-making body, is expected to convene in Ramallah on October 28 and 29.

“We are going to put all the agreements between us and the Israelis on the table and we will ask them to stop violating each agreement,” Abbas told Palestine TV, the official PA television station, in an interview broadcast late Tuesday evening. “I am not saying this is an easy issue; it is a dangerous issue. Perhaps we will arrive at the point of abrogating a lot of what is between us and the Israelis.”

The PLO and Israel have signed several agreements, including the Oslo Accords, which established the PA and outlined security, economic and other ties between it and the Jewish state.

Farashe Yoga sits off Ramallah’s Al Manara Square. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images/JTA)

In the past several years, Abbas has made similar comments about agreements between the Palestinians and Israel, but he has not moved to do away with them.

The PA president said, however, that his Ramallah-based government would not be able sidestep the decisions the Central Council makes at its upcoming meeting, calling the PLO body “the highest Palestinian authority.”

Asked about Abbas’s statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to comment.

Abbas also said the Central Council could cancel agreements between the Palestinians and the United States.

In recent speeches, Abbas has referred to an agreement with the US, which he said entails the Palestinians committing to not joining UN agencies, on the condition that the American administration does not relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, does not change the status of the PLO representative office in Washington, DC, and continues its aid payments for the benefit of Palestinians.

In the past year, US President Donald Trump’s administration has moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, closed the PLO representative office in the American capital, and ended almost all of its aid payments for Palestinians.

For their part, the Palestinians applied for membership in at least three UN agencies earlier this year, but have not attempted to join several others.

Palestinian school children chant slogans and raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank on September 5, 2018. The United States, the biggest contributor to the UNRWA, announced on August 31 that it was halting all funding to the organization, which it labelled “irredeemably flawed” (AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER)

The US has long opposed the Palestinians joining UN agencies because its laws require that American funding be cut off to any UN organization that grants them full membership.

The Palestinians and the US are also parties to a bilateral agreement on combating terrorism, according to the PA president.

Abbas added that the Central Council would also address the status of the Gaza Strip and signaled that if Hamas does not transfer control of the coastal enclave to the PA, the Palestinian leadership will end all funding to the territory.

“Either we take over everything and take responsibility for everything or they take over everything and take responsibility for everything,” he said. “This whole issue will be put in front of the Central Council.”

Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-sponsored deal in October 2017 to bring the West Bank and Gaza Strip under one government, but have failed implement it.

The Hamas terrorist group has been the effective sovereign inside Gaza since it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the territory.

A major issue of disagreement between Fatah and Hamas is the weapons of armed groups in Gaza. Abbas, who serves as Fatah chairman, has said all weapons in Gaza should be under PA control. Hamas leaders, meanwhile, have defended “the right” of armed groups in the Strip to possess weapons and have not said they would be willing to hand them over to the PA.

Most Popular
read more: