JERUSALEM, Israel – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Tuesday that the PA will no longer abide by any agreements signed with Israel and the United States after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to annex Jewish communities in the West Bank.
“The Palestinian Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are no longer committed to all signed agreements and understandings with the Israeli government and the American government, including the security commitments," Abbas said late Tuesday.
He said Israel would now have to “uphold responsibilities before the international community as the occupying power.”
It is unclear how the announcement would be implemented. The Oslo Accords and other agreements signed with the US and Israel in the 1990s created the PA and Abbas’ own position as president. The agreements also control the PA’s political, economic, and security relations with Israel.
Abbas has not signaled that he is dissolving the PA since making the announcement Tuesday.
Abbas has repeatedly made similar threats in the past but never followed through. Many Israelis and Palestinians don’t think this time is any different.
“He’s just ratcheting up the threat level. Abbas won’t take a practical step, and is trying to put pressure on Israel,” Eitan Dangot, a former IDF general and former head of the Defense Ministry body for coordinating with the Palestinians, Army Radio.
One anonymous PA official told The Jerusalem Post that many Palestinians do not believe Abbas’ threats will have any impact on Israel or the US.
“Since 2015, President Abbas has been reading from the same paper,” the official told the Post. “How many times can you repeat the same threat? How can you renounce the same agreements you said you renounced five years ago? That’s why Israel and many in the international community no longer take these threats seriously.”
The Post also reported that when Palestinian officials tried asking Abbas about whether there was a timetable or mechanism to make good on his threats during a meeting on Tuesday, they were ordered to shut up or face removal from the room.
However, the New York Times quotes senior Palestinian officials as saying Abbas is not bluffing.
“This decision is for immediate implementation,” Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, tells the paper. “It is not to be studied or discussed in committees.”
Former IDF general Alon Evyatat told Army Radio that Abbas is waiting to see if Israel follows through with the annexation before making a move.
“This is the sharpest we’ve heard Abbas regarding agreements — but he has not burned [the bridge],” he said.
Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlement communities in the West Bank – Israel’s biblical heartland. The annexation plan is in line with President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu formed a new government with his chief rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, following three elections and more than a year of political gridlock. The coalition agreement allows Netanyahu to present an annexation proposal as soon as July 1.
If Abbas follows through with his threats, it could have a huge impact on the Palestinians under his rule and Israel.
The security cooperation serves both the interests of Abbas and Israel because it is largely aimed at the Hamas terror group, Abbas’ main rival.
Israeli forces regularly coordinate with Palestinian forces to carry out arrest raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Palestinian forces, including senior Palestinian officials, must coordinate with Israel to move around the West Bank and to enter or exit Jordan.
The PA also provides basic services to densely populated areas of the West Bank, and dissolving the government body could spell chaos and leave tens of thousands of Palestinians unemployed.
Abbas’ agreements with Israel governs nearly all of the PA’s basic functions. Israel collects taxes and customs duties on behalf of the PA, its main source of revenue.