Israeli officials confirm Palestinian Authority is ending security coordination

After years of threats, sources say this time Abbas has truly halted cooperation, in protest of new government’s plans to annex West Bank areas

Palestinian security forces guard at the entrance to the West Bank city of Nablus on March 23, 2020, as part of measures to contain the coronavirus. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinian security forces guard at the entrance to the West Bank city of Nablus on March 23, 2020, as part of measures to contain the coronavirus. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Israeli sources confirmed Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is making good on its threat to end security coordination with Israel over the new Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

In addition to security cooperation between the Israeli military and Palestinian security forces, civil ties between Israel and the PA were also set to cease.

Defense officials warned that the halting of cooperation between Israel and the PA could lead to rising violence, with more clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians.

The severing of the agreements came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday the Palestinians were no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, citing the new government’s plan to move forward with annexation of West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley as early as July 1.

For years, Abbas has made similar threats on numerous occasions to end security ties with Israel and dissolve the PA, but never followed through.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 19, 2020. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool/AFP)

Hours before the move was confirmed by Israeli sources, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met Thursday with the heads of Palestinian security forces to discuss ending the coordination with Israel.

“Israel’s annexation of any parts of the West Bank constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinian national project and an end to the two-state solution,” he said, according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.

Shtayyeh charged that Israel “breached international law and violated all the agreements signed with us” and therefore “we will no longer abide by these agreements.”

According to the Haaretz daily, Palestinian security forces had withdrawn from the West Bank’s Areas B and C to Area A, which is under full PA control.

Area B is under Israeli security control, with certain exceptions where Palestinians maintain limited security control, while Area C is fully administered by Israel.

Citing Palestinian sources, the newspaper said Israel has been updated about the development and the retreat largely affects the Palestinian civilian populations in Areas B and C.

The report was not immediately confirmed by Israel.

A video shared by the PA-ruling Fatah movement on social media Thursday claimed to show Palestinian security forces preventing Israeli soldiers from entering Hebron.

Also Thursday, a senior Palestinian official announced the PA’s security services will stop sharing information with the US Central Intelligence Agency.

The PA government cut all ties with the Trump administration in 2017, accusing the US president of pro-Israel bias for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who previously served as CIA chief, said Wednesday he hoped security cooperation would continue.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2020, in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP)

The decision to also end security ties with the US was in protest of the administration’s endorsing of Israeli annexation in parts of the West Bank within the framework of its peace plan.

Those areas include Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley — a key strategic area that makes up around a third of the West Bank.

Palestinians say the US plan ends prospects for a two-state solution to their decades-long conflict with Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to go through with annexation has led to condemnations from a growing list on countries, including Arab states such as Jordan and European nations like France and Germany.

AFP contributed to this report.

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