Savaging Trump peace plan, Palestinians again threaten to dissolve PA

As Netanyahu and Gantz head to Washington to meet with US president about deal, activists call for ‘day of rage’ against its announcement

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palistinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressing Palestinian and Arab journalists in the PA presidential headquarters on July 3, 2019. (Wafa)
Palistinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressing Palestinian and Arab journalists in the PA presidential headquarters on July 3, 2019. (Wafa)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, suggested on Sunday that the Palestinians could dissolve the PA, after US President Donald Trump indicated that he will release his administration’s long-awaited plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this week.

“The leadership will hold a series of meetings on all levels — including the factions and organizations — to announce its total rejection of conceding Jerusalem,” Abu Rudeineh told the Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station, according to the government-run Wafa news site.

“The leadership will study all options including the fate of the [Palestinian] National Authority and any decision made will be supported by the Arabs and international community,” he added.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has frequently threatened in the past to dissolve the PA and transfer responsibility for providing services to Palestinians to Israel, but it has yet to take major steps in that direction.

If the Palestinians were to dissolve the PA, tens of thousands of public workers would lose their jobs.

Other Palestinian officials explicitly threatened to withdraw from key provisions of the Oslo Accords, which define the PA’s relations with Israel, if Trump announces his peace plan. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that the Palestine Liberation Organization reserved the right “to withdraw from the interim agreement” if Trump unveils his plan.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Cairo, Egypt, in 2011. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

The Trump initiative will turn Israel’s “temporary occupation (of Palestinian territory) into a permanent occupation,” Erekat said.

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed in Washington in 1995, sought to put into practice the first Oslo peace deal agreed two years earlier. Sometimes called Oslo II, the interim agreement set out the scope of Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. The interim pact was only supposed to last five years while a permanent agreement was finalized but it has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades.

Trump is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz separately on Monday about his administration’s plan. Netanyahu has said he will also meet the US president on Tuesday.

Channel 12, citing unnamed Israeli sources, reported on Thursday that the American administration’s plan calls for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and 100-plus settlements, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state, on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The report also said that the US plan would grant Israel full security control in the Jordan Valley, and provide for some minor land swaps and a possible absorption of some Palestinian refugees in Israel; it also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally.

Palestinian youths protest with national flags near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 9, 2017, following the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP/ ABBAS MOMANI)

The Palestinian leadership has long called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and a “just” solution to the refugee issue.

The National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah and al-Bireh, a group of local activists, announced on Sunday that the day that the Trump administration announces its plan would be considered “a day of rage,” Wafa reported.

The group, which includes many members of the different Palestinian political parties, also called for a boycott of American products and said it would announce specific times for “activities related to confronting” the American plan in the coming two days, Wafa said.

While some protests against the Trump administration in the West Bank in the past couple of years have garnered many thousands of participants, others have only brought out several dozen.

Since late 2017, the Trump administration has made several moves seen as marginalizing the Palestinians: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy in the Jewish state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and closing the PLO representative office in Washington.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Sunday the Palestinians were discussing “practical steps with the Arab brothers” to respond to the announcement of the US plan, according to the PA Foreign Ministry’s site.

US President Donald Trump, left, welcomes visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

He made the comment while hosting Isam al-Din Ashour, the Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinians, the Foreign Ministry said.

While several Arab states have expressed greater openness to Israel in recent years, they have continued to advocate publicly for a two-state solution.

“Trump’s plan is the plot of the century to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement sent to AFP on Sunday.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that the terror group rejects “the deal of the century conspiracy,” using a term Palestinians often use to refer to the US plan cynically.

“We firmly declare that the ‘deal of the century’ will not pass. The new plot aimed against Palestine is bound to fail,” and could lead the Palestinians to a “new phase in their struggle” against Israel, Haniyeh said in a statement.

He also said Hamas was prepared to participate in a meeting with Fatah and other Palestinian factions in Cairo “to outline our path forward,” the terror group’s website said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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