PA official: Security ties with Israel in jeopardy

Palestinian organizations are demanding a halt to all coordination after Nakba Day deaths of two protesters, source says

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Israeli police in a confrontation with Palestinians at a Nakba Day event, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, on May 15, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli police in a confrontation with Palestinians at a Nakba Day event, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, on May 15, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A senior Palestinian source warned Thursday that security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse. The source, in a conversation with the Times of Israel, said that recent, “dangerous” developments on the ground — notably the killing of two Palestinians in Nakba Day demonstrations earlier in the day – has already led to heavy pressure on the Palestinian leadership to immediately sever ties with Israel’s security apparatuses.

The source said that there was coordination between the two sides ahead of the Thursday demonstrations, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the fatalities. He added that during discussions with Israeli defense officials in the wake of the incident, the PA was assured that an investigation would be launched into what caused the fatalities and whether soldiers had fired live ammunition.

But even if they didn’t die of live fire, the source said, Fatah and other organizations were demanding that Palestinian defense officials cease coordination with Israel.

“We don’t want an escalation,” he said, “but understand that the situation on the ground is in the brink of exploding.

“We can act to calm the [people’s] sentiments, but it only takes one bullet to raise these feelings again,” he continued, noting that the PA has been organizing meetings to address continued security coordination with Israel.

“We aren’t the South Lebanese Army,” he said, a reference to the militia group Israel once used as a proxy in southern Lebanon against the PLO and Hezbollah. “You must do something here in order to stabilize the situation. [There is] ongoing construction in the settlements, a refusal to freeze construction, and continued mistreatment of Palestinians.

“There is now a hunger strike among the prisoners and the whole situation is very volatile,” he said. “We say to you, if conditions continue like this, we will pass over to you the mechanisms [of control] and you will have to deal with the situation.”

The source also spoke to the subject of stalled peace talks, saying there were phone calls between members of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams, to no avail.

“The Israelis did not bring any new or different ideas,” he said, adding that during a meeting Wednesday in London between US Secretary of State John Kerry and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, it was revealed for the first time that Israel is unwilling to release 30 long-serving prisoners, and is not ready to implement a construction freeze in the settlements.

“In front of us there are difficult, grave decisions, and none of them are simple ones,” he said.

Sources in the IDF and defense establishment refused to comment directly on the situation, although they warned that stopping security cooperation could damage the Palestinian side and the economic situation of West Bank residents. The Israeli sources lauded the continued security coordination since, they said, it serves the interests of both sides.

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