Palestinian officials will meet Thursday to discuss severing military ties with Israel, after an election Tuesday failed to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawing anger in Ramallah
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council, chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will discuss practical steps to implement an earlier decision to end security cooperation, considered a keystone of Israel and the PA’s anti-terror efforts in the West Bank.
The council set up the meeting before the vote, but said they would wait until after results roll in to make a decision on whether to cut off ties.
However, analysts believe that no dramatic steps will be taken prior to the formation of a governing coalition.
A senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that a decisive victory by Netanyahu will certainly be beneficial to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to undermine Israel in the international arena.
If Netanyahu is reelected, appealing to the international community to support the Palestinian cause will become far easier, because he is widely perceived as a political hawk and because of his previous statements that a Palestinian state will not be established so long as he remains prime minister, the official added.
The PLO declared in early March that it will end security cooperation with Israel after the Jewish state started withholding tax revenue from the Palestinians in retribution for their bid to join the International Criminal Court in January and to prosecute Israel for war crimes. Under a 1994 economic agreement, Israel agreed to transfer tens of millions of dollars each month to the PA in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
But a source close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Radio that the council’s decision to end security cooperation was a recommendation only. Another Palestinian official said that Abbas must issue a presidential order to effect this change.
Set up under the 1993 Oslo Accords which founded the Palestinian Authority, the security coordination involves the sharing of intelligence and is considered crucial for Israel to keep tabs on Hamas and its West Bank members.
Palestinian leaders have threatened to cut security ties with Jerusalem in the past, but cooperation held as both sides had a shared interest in maintaining the arrangement.
Israel sees security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as a vital part of its efforts to stymie attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers and gain intelligence on the ground.
This has translated into far fewer Israeli troops and reduced friction, with the IDF gradually removing roadblocks that once bisected the West Bank.
Abbas has said in the past that security cooperation with Israel would persist regardless of differences with the Israeli government
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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