Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Thursday that the PA would stop implementing its agreements with Israel and announced the formation of a committee to study how to implement the decision.
In a fiery speech during a meeting of top Palestinian officials at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas said the move came “in the face of the occupation authority’s insistence on negating all of the signed agreements.”
Abbas said the PA will “halt work related to the agreements signed with the Israeli side and begin establishing mechanisms, starting tomorrow with the formation of a committee to implement that.”
He did not give details on which agreements specifically would be halted.
The two governments work together on matters ranging from water to security, and withdrawing from agreements could impact security in the West Bank.
Abbas has threatened on multiple occasions in the past to nullify accords with Israel and it was not immediately clear whether his statements Thursday indicated a significant shift in policy.
The PA leader lambasted Israel’s demolition this week of homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, calling it “a violation of international legitimacy and agreements signed between us and them, an issue that can only be identified as ethnic cleansing and a crime against humanity.”
He said Israel “has decided to negate all of its obligations according to the signed agreements with it” and continues “to kill and arrest Palestinian citizens, demolish their homes, confiscate their land, close the roads with hundreds of checkpoints, build walls undermining the contiguity of the Palestinian territories and impose a racist separation policy — apartheid.”
Abbas added that the US administration was abetting Israel in that cause and “providing cover for the Israeli violations against our people.”
He stressed that while “our hands are still extended in peace because we believe in a comprehensive, just and permanent peace… we will not surrender or coexist with the occupation.”
Relations between Abbas’s government and Israel have worsened in recent months.
In February, the Jewish state decided to deduct around $10 million a month from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, corresponding to the amount it said the PA pays to families of prisoners or directly to inmates in Israeli jails.
Israel sees such payments as encouraging terror attacks, while Palestinians say they are support for families who have often lost their main breadwinners.
The Palestinians have in response refused to take any of the roughly $180 million in monthly tax revenues until the full amount is transferred, leaving Abbas’s government in financial crisis.
On Monday, Abbas’s office called the Sur Baher demolitions a “massacre” and said Israel bears “full responsibility for this dangerous escalation against the innocent Palestinian people.” Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, described the demolitions on Twitter as a “war crime.”
Most of the buildings Israel razed are in a section of the neighborhood that according to agreements between Israel and the PLO are designated as being under PA administrative control. Most of the homes were still under construction.
The owners of the properties said they had received construction permits from the PA government in Ramallah.
But Israel has argued that the construction of the buildings violated a military order issued in 2011 that prohibited building in areas adjacent to the security barrier. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday that under the Oslo Accords, Israel is allowed to demolish homes that pose a security risk.
Israel’s actions drew condemnation from the international community, including France, Jordan, Qatar, the EU and the UN, which said the demolitions undermines peace and could violate international law.
Earlier this year, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition brought by the property owners, all of whom hold Israeli residency, suing for the annulment of the military order barring construction in places next to the security barrier.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.