PA premier vows to prevent chaos in West Bank despite cutting security ties

Shtayyeh says Palestinian Authority will continue to act as sovereign in its territory after ending cooperation with Israel over new government’s annexation plans

Members of the Palestinian Authority security forces patrolling in the village of Beitunia in the central West Bank on April 6, 2020. (Credit: Wafa)
Members of the Palestinian Authority security forces patrolling in the village of Beitunia in the central West Bank on April 6, 2020. (Credit: Wafa)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday said the PA would prevent widespread chaos and public disorder in the West Bank despite Ramallah’s decision to end security coordination with Israel last week over the new Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

“We are in an important battle, a battle over the Palestinian national presence in the territory and to prevent the annexation of Palestinian territory for the benefit of the settlement enterprise,” Shtayyeh said at a press conference in Ramallah.

He said the PA would continue to act as a sovereign state in the West Bank and that it sees itself as released from agreements with Israel.

Israeli defense officials have warned of a potential outbreak of violence in response to the annexation plans and possibly stoked as well by the coronavirus-related economic woes of the Palestinian Authority.

Shtayyeh added the PA would not allow the public’s civil liberties to be violated, and would press for international legal action against Israel with the help of third parties, including international organizations.

He also said at the press conference that coronavirus restrictions will be eased across the West Bank, with courts, government ministries, shops, schools, nurseries and public transportation set to resume normal operations in the next few days.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks to reporters during a press conference on April 13, 2020. (Wafa)

PA President Mahmound Abbas announced last week 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.

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.

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

Senior Israeli officials said Friday that security coordination between Israel and the PA was expected to continue clandestinely. The officials said the Palestinians told Israel they were not prepared to completely “smash” the security coordination and would not allow an outbreak of violent incidents, the Ynet news site reported.

Channel 13 said that the PA had sent messages to Israel saying that despite ending the cooperation, it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising.

Israel’s security establishment, however, fears that the Hamas terror group will exploit the escalating tensions to step up its activities in the West Bank, Ynet reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/Pool/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he has set a July date for when Israel will extend its sovereignty to areas of the West Bank, and informed his Likud lawmakers he has no intention of changing it.

The move would be coordinated with the US, in accordance with the Middle East plan US President Donald Trump unveiled in January, which endorsed extending Israeli sovereignty over roughly 30 percent of the West Bank.

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.

In recent days even Trump administration officials have appeared to seek to dampen expectations that Washington will quickly green-light the move without any progress in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The State Department’s chief spokesperson said earlier this month that any action should be part of discussions between Israel and the Palestinians on the Trump administration’s peace plan.

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