PLO, PA said to mull cutting security ties with Israel

Abbas aide says all possibilities contingent on diplomatic success of US Secretary of State John Kerry

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian security officers in the West Bank city of Nablus (Wagdit Ashtiyeh/Flash90)
Palestinian security officers in the West Bank city of Nablus (Wagdit Ashtiyeh/Flash90)

The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority are mulling the option of halting security coordination with Israel in defiance of an American request to refrain from doing so, an Arab daily reported on Sunday.

Anonymous “knowledgeable sources” told London-based daily Al-Hayat that despite American efforts to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, “the Palestinians cannot wait for American action while Israel races against time by changing the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank and imposes a policy of fait accompli.”

The Palestinian Authority has been facing mounting pressure from the Islamist factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as from smaller left-wing factions within the PLO, to halt security coordination with Israel as a punitive measure in response to Israeli construction beyond the Green Line.

Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s faction, has also begun preparing the ground for security disengagement from Israel if a Palestinian bid for recognition via the United Nations Security Council fails. The movement’s Revolutionary Council declared in October that failure to recognize “Palestine” as a full member of the UN could “end the peace process” and “halt all official ties stemming from the Oslo agreement and mutual obligations arising from it.”

“We are confident that the Palestinian people will be able to remain steadfast in the face of the coming challenges and the results of this decision,” the October 20 statement read.

Muhammad Al-Madani, a Fatah official and Abbas’s liaison to Israeli society, would not comment on the Al-Hayat report. He told The Times of Israel in a telephone interview Sunday that “everything depends on the results of the current diplomatic efforts,” referring to the talks held in Jordan last Thursday by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II.

Abbas, for his part, has not referred publicly to the possibility of cutting security ties with Israel. In May he vowed to uphold security ties with Israel even if negotiations falter, referring to them as “sacred.” Hamas has lambasted Abbas for those comments, describing them as treasonous.

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