RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that Israeli annexations in the occupied West Bank would spell the end of all security coordination, as international opposition to the plans grows.
US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday became the latest high-profile figure to oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, which makes up around 30 percent of the West Bank.
Palestinians say any annexation would put an end to their hopes of an independent state alongside Israel, the so-called two-state solution.
In a speech late Tuesday, Abbas said the annexation plans showed Israel was no longer abiding by peace accords between the two.
As such, he said, the Palestinian government was “absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.” Abbas did not go into detail about the implications of such a step but it is his strongest card in a very weak hand as he seeks to pressure Israel to hold back.
The 85-year-old has made multiple previous threats to end security cooperation with Israel without ultimately following through.
A genuine end to security coordination could jeapordise the relative calm in the West Bank, where 2.7 million Palestinians live alongside more than 400,000 Israeli settlers.
Israel controls all access to the territory where Abbas’s government is based and even basic tasks require coordination between the two sides.
Abbas even needs coordination to travel from Ramallah, where the government is based, to any other Palestinian city.
Tareq Baconi of the International Crisis Group think-tank said the Palestinian leadership had provided little clarity about what ending security coordination would mean.
“The impact isn’t just freedom of movement, it is everything, even where food supply lines come from,” he said. “It can’t be dismantled overnight.” In reality, he said, Abbas was seeking to build pressure on Israel to tone down annexation plans.
Hugh Lovatt, Israel-Palestine analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, agreed.
“We have been here before, many times. Abbas has yet to follow through, emptying such threats of any potential deterrence,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020