Palestinians denounce PA over meetings with Israeli officials

Opposition factions say talks between counterpart ministers and other government representatives violate PLO, Fatah decisions to ‘disengage’ from Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Tuesday, April 21, 2015 (AP/Dita Alangkara)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Tuesday, April 21, 2015 (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Recent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials have drawn sharp criticism from Palestinian factions and activists, who are accusing the PA leadership of reneging on its pledge to “disengage” from Israel.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen and his Palestinian counterpart, Abeer Odeh, the PA Minister of National Economy.

Initiated by the French, the meeting at the Elysee Palace was aimed at bolstering economic cooperation between the PA and Israel.

Another meeting sparking Palestinian anger also took place last week, when PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with Major-General Yoav Mordechai, Government Activities Coordinator in the Territories (COGAT).

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, participated in the meeting, which focused on ways of helping solve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Both meetings came on the heels of decisions taken by the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Council to suspend ties with Israel.

Earlier this month, the PLO Executive Committee endorsed a resolution by the Fatah Central Council to take a series of measures to begin “disengaging” from Israel “at the political, security, economic and administrative levels.”

The move came in response to US President Donald Trump’s December decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and threats to cut funding to the PA and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

On Saturday, Palestinian factions denounced the Israeli-Palestinian meetings and accused the PA leadership of acting in violation of its own decisions.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terror group that does not recognize the Oslo Accords, said that such meetings were “disrespectful toward the Palestinians and decisions made by their national institutions.”

The group accused the PA of misleading the Palestinian public and warned against resuming peace talks with Israel though back cannels.

The meetings, the PFLP charged, prove that the PA, despite its talk about suspending relations with Israel, has no desire to pursue a new policy.

Walid Awad, a senior official with the Palestinian People’s Party (formerly the Communist party), said that PA government was acting in direct contravention of the PLO and Fatah decisions.

The PLO Executive Committee asked the PA government to devise a plan for “disengaging” from Israel, Awad pointed out. He warned that Israeli-Palestinian meetings under the auspices of the international community signaled a “dangerous slide into the swamp of economic peace.”

Another terror group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), also condemned the PA for the meetings.

Saying that they contradicted the decisions against cooperation with Israel, the DFLP called for another meeting of PLO and Fatah leaders to discuss the policy of the PA government.

Several Palestinians also took to social media to express their outrage.

“The Palestinian Authority either does not know what it wants or is fooling us,” commented journalist Said Abu Moalla. “It’s likely that both are true.”

Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh scoffed at the decision to cut further ties with Israel, suggesting in a Facebook post that the PA had instead decided to “disengage” from the Palestinians.

حد يفهمني ياها … ((انفكاك اقتصادي )) ((تجميد الاعتراف باسرائيل ))ومعاليها مبسوطه بالصوره ، كأنو واجب الشعب بس يموت…

Posted by Mohammad Sabaaneh on Friday, February 16, 2018

“Her Excellency [the PA minister] appears happy in the photo as if it’s the duty of Palestinians to die at checkpoints during Friday days of rage,” Sabaaneh remarked. “Are you happy in Paris, Your Excellency? How’s the weather in Paris?”

Other Palestinian activists complained that the talk about boosting economic ties stood in sharp contrast with calls to boycott Israeli products.

“So what are we expected to do now – boycott Israeli goods or purchase more to increase commercial trade [with Israel]?” asked Alaa Abu Diab in a sarcastic Facebook comment.

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