‘PA security coordination with Israel called off after official’s death’

Former PA security chief Jibril Rajoub says Israel crossed ‘a red line’; Hamas, Islamic Jihad call for renewed armed resistance

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

A border policeman grabs Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein (L) during a demonstration in the West Bank on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)
A border policeman grabs Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein (L) during a demonstration in the West Bank on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)

The Palestinian Authority has decided to halt all security coordination with Israel following the death of senior Fatah official Ziad Abu Ein, a top Palestinian Authority official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday, as militant Palestinian factions called for armed resistance.

Former Preventive Security Force head Jibril Rajoub said the PA had no choice but to respond given that Israel had “crossed a red line.”

He said the cessation of security coordination was open-ended. The PA will also now immediately apply for membership in international organizations, Rajoub said, referring to the dozens of United Nations and other forums which the PA has long threatened to seek to join — unilateral moves opposed by Israel.

The PA offered no official confirmation of Rajoub’s claim.

Abu Ein, 55, died en route to a hospital after being involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops in the West Bank. Palestinian witnesses said Abu Ein, who headed the PA government agency that fights against the security barrier and settlements, inhaled tear gas and was hit by a soldier’s rifle butt. An Israeli witness said Abu Ein was not hit by a rifle butt, and the IDF said it was investigating the incident, which took place near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh settlement.

Divergent Palestinian factions united in condemning the clash and Abu Ein’s death, which took place during a tree-planting event in the central West Bank.

Jibril Rajoub (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Jibril Rajoub (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)

PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced three days of mourning to mark the “martyrdom” of Abu Ein. Abbas accused Israel of Abu Ein’s death, calling it “a barbaric act over which we cannot remain silent.”

“We will take the necessary steps after knowing the results of the investigation of warrior Abu Ein’s martyrdom,” said Abbas in a statement carried by official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abu Ein’s death was enabled by a “culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community.”

“The Israeli government bears full responsibility for the killing of Minister (sic) Abu Ein and the systematic crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”

Footage of the event released by Sky News Arabia shows a physical altercation between Abu Ein, described in some reports as a PA minister, and an Israeli border policeman, in which the policeman grabs the Fatah official’s neck. Later footage shows him gasping for air on the ground before being carried into a Palestinian ambulance.

Hamas called on all Palestinian factions to unite in opposition to “the criminal Israeli occupation,” calling for an immediate halt to security cooperation with Israel.

Islamic Jihad official Khaled Al-Batsh consoled the Abu Ein family in a Facebook comment.

“This heinous crime proves that the enemy makes no distinction between members of [Islamic] Jihad, Fatah and Hamas. Therefore, the most appropriate response to this heinous crime is a halt to the security coordination with the enemy. We must support armed resistance since the enemy only understands the language of force.”

Robert Seryy, the UN’s special coordinator on the Mideast peace process, said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Abu Ein.

He called in a statement for “Israeli authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstance of his death.”

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report

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