Senior Palestinian official says PA no longer sharing intelligence with CIA

After declaring end to security ties with Israel, Saeb Erekat announces halt in intel cooperation with US amid growing talk of Israeli annexation in West Bank

Saeb Erekat speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on September 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Saeb Erekat speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on September 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

The Palestinian Authority security services will stop sharing information with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in protest of Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.

“It has been 48 hours that the American Intelligence Service have been notified that the agreement with them is no longer in force,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

“Security cooperation with the US no more. Security cooperation with Israel no more,” he added.

The PA government cut all ties with the Trump administration in 2017, accusing US President Donald Trump of pro-Israel bias for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Certain non-political relations were maintained, however, including between the PA security services and the CIA.

The exact details of the information sharing is not public but is thought to concern Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.

Palestinian Authority security forces enforce restrictions against the coronavirus in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Erekat, speaking via video link from the West Bank city of Jericho, did not provide specific details on what the announcement would mean on the ground.

The US embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment on his statement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who previously served as CIA chief, said Wednesday he hoped security cooperation would continue.

Also Thursday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with the heads of Palestinian security to discuss ending coordination with Israel.

“Israel’s annexation of any parts of the West Bank constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinian national project and an end to the two-state solution,” Shtayyeh was quoted saying by the Wafa news agency. “Israel has breached international law and violated all the agreements signed with us, whether the political, security, economic, and legal agreements. From now on, we will no longer abide by these agreements.”

According to the Haaretz daily, Palestinian security forces began withdrawing Thursday from the West Bank’s Areas B and C to Area A, which is under full PA control.

Under the Oslo peace accords, Area A is under full PA control, Area B is under Israeli security control, with certain exceptions where Palestinians maintain limited security control, and Area C is fully administered by Israel.

Citing Palestinian sources, the newspaper said Israel has been updated about the development and the retreat largely affects the Palestinian civilian populations in Areas B and C.

The report was not immediately confirmed by Israel.

The ramifications of such a withdrawal were not immediately clear.

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

On Tuesday night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced an end to all agreements with Israel and the US over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated intention to annex key parts of the West Bank.

In a 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 Trump’s peace plan as soon as July 1.

These areas include Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley — a key strategic area that makes up around a third of the West Bank.

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)

Palestinians say the US plan ends prospects for a two-state solution to their decades-long conflict with Israel.

Abbas has made threats to end security coordination with the Jewish state multiple times, without ultimately following through.

According to a Channel 12 report Thursday, a senior Palestinian official conveyed to Israel that despite Abbas’s declaration on the severing of ties, at least some aspects of security cooperation will continue.

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