JERUSALEM, Israel – The Palestinian Authority is following through on its threat to end security coordination with Israel over the new Israeli government’s decision to annex Jewish settlement communities in the West Bank, the Times of Israel reports.
Palestinian security forces began pulling out of a community of Abu Dis east of Jerusalem, Israeli media reported Friday. The withdrawal is said to be partial and a limited security presence will remain in the area.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened for years to end security coordination with Israel, but Israeli sources told the paper Abbas is serious this time about severing ties. They also claimed all civil relations between Israel and the PA will end too.
Israel and Palestinian Authority forces regularly exchange intelligence to conduct raids against terrorists in the West Bank. This security coordination is vital to both parties because these arrest raids are largely aimed at Israel and the PA’s common enemy – Hamas.
This end of security cooperation comes after Abbas said the PA will no longer abide by any agreements signed with Israel and the United States because of Israel’s annexation plans. The PA had hoped to build a future state in the West Bank, but Israel’s annexation plans, which would place about 30 percent of the West Bank under Israeli control by July, will make a future state less likely.
While it is unclear how Abbas’ threats would be implemented, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, a highly-respected Palestinian pollster, said it would have “catastrophic” consequences on Palestinians.
Shikaki said Abbas has put himself in a hard place. If he does not act on his threats to sever ties with Israel, he loses credibility with the Palestinian people. If he does follow through and end all ties with Israel, he places his people at a greater risk for violence, terrorism, and poverty.
Abbas “has already promised ending all relations [with Israel], including security, terminating commitments under Oslo. This would essentially destroy the PA, leading to its gradual collapse,” Shikaki said, while speaking at a webinar hosted by the Israel Policy Forum.
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.
The PA 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 govern nearly all of the PA’s basic functions. Israel collects taxes and customs duties on behalf of the PA, its main source of revenue.
Despite the risks to ordinary civilians, ending security coordination with Israel is the most favored response to the annexation plans among Palestinian elites in the West Bank, said Shikaki, who is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey in Ramallah.
Shikaki said the second favored response is a violent uprising among the Palestinian youth who believe their dreams of a future homeland will be impossible if Israel extends sovereignty to a greater part of the West Bank.
Palestinian youth are too young to remember the failures of past uprisings, which is why they are more likely to choose violence.
“The youth only know Oslo and negotiations, and efforts to reach an agreement and failing and so on, and they therefore are likely to think that perhaps violence would work,” he said