Palestinian official said to reassure Israel some security cooperation still on

Even if coordinated activities are stopped the Palestinians will not allow terror to run amok in their territory, will prevent attacks, senior figure tells Israeli defense entities

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)

A senior Palestinian official on Thursday conveyed to Israel that, despite the announcement of a severance in ties made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, at least some aspects of security cooperation will continue, according to a report.

Earlier this week Abbas declared he was terminating all agreements with Israel and the United States, including security cooperation with the Jewish state, over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to annex parts of the West Bank.

In a speech to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, Abbas also said Israel would have to assume responsibility for the civilian Palestinian population.

However, Channel 12 news reported that an unnamed senior Palestinian official sent messages to the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service saying that some coordination would continue and that the Palestinian security organizations will continue to do their best to foil terror attacks against Israel. Even if cooperation really is ended, the official vowed that terror groups will not be permitted to act freely in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

The Channel 12 report noted that some coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian security services will always be necessary as Israel controls some checkpoints and roads in the West Bank. Palestinian security forces need to coordinate with Israel to pass through those locations.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 19, 2020. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool via AP)

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was to meet Thursday with commanders of the Palestinian security apparatus to discuss Abbas’s remarks, the TV report said. On Wednesday Shtayyeh told PA ministers that the Authority was cutting off from Israel, but apparently did not specify how that would be implemented.

In his Tuesday speech, Abbas pointed to the coalition agreement between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, which allows the new government to annex areas designated for Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan as soon as July 1.

On Wednesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped security cooperation will continue.

“We hope that the security arrangements will continue to be in place, that the work that’s done on the ground there to keep people in Israel and Palestinians safe will continue,” Pompeo said during a press conference at the State Department.

He added that he was “not exactly sure” how to interpret Abbas’s declaration that the PA was ending all agreements as Israel seeks to annex portions of the West Bank.

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

The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since the 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, have rejected the Trump peace proposal out of hand.

Abbas has on dozens of occasions previously threatened to tear up all agreements with Israel, and it was unclear whether his declaration Tuesday would be implemented or have any practical effect.

The two governments work together on matters ranging from water to security, and withdrawing from agreements could impact security in the West Bank. If the Palestinians were to dissolve the PA, tens of thousands of public workers would lose their jobs.

Abbas claimed Netanyahu’s remarks Monday over the planned extension of Israeli sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley meant Israel had “annulled” the 1993 Oslo Accords, which established the PA and kicked off the decades-long peace process.

The Ramallah-based PA controls the West Bank, where Israel maintains settlements and has a military presence.

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