Palestinians doubt Abbas's threats will stop Israeli settlement annexation
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest threat to renounce all agreements with Israel mainly aims to send a “warning” to the new Israeli government and the international community, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.
Noting that Abbas has stopped short of canceling the agreements, the officials nevertheless said they were skeptical that the threat will stop Israel from proceeding with its intention to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank. Abbas, they said, does not hold powerful cards that allow him to threaten Israel and the US.
The official pointed out that Abbas’s previous threats had failed to stop Washington from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The threats have also failed to change Israel’s policies and measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the officials noted.
Some officials, however, expressed hope that his threat would increase pressure on the Israeli government to refrain from implementing its plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. They also voiced hope that the international community would respond to Abbas’s threat by exerting more pressure on Israel to refrain from taking any unilateral move in the West Bank.
“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are 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 announced during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Tuesday night.
A senior PA security official said on Wednesday that he was unaware of any instruction from the Palestinian leadership to halt security coordination with Israel. “We only heard from the Israeli media that security coordination has been stopped,” he said. “But so far we haven’t received any order from our political or security leaders.”
A PLO official explained that the Palestinian leadership would not make any “real decisions” regarding the agreements with Israel in the immediate future.
“We are still hopeful that the Israeli government and the US administration will get the message and change their policies and measures,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “President Abbas made an announcement last night, and we are waiting to see how the world is going to react. In any case, we won’t take any real measures before the Israeli government officially announces the annexation of parts of the West Bank.”
A Fatah official said that he and many Palestinians don’t believe Abbas’s threat would make an impression on anyone.
“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.”
Palestinian sources said that a number of Palestinian officials tried to ask Abbas during the Tuesday meeting whether there was a mechanism of timetable for the implementation of his latest threat; his aides ordered the officials to shut up or face being forcibly removed from the room.
“It was a stormy meeting,” remarked a Ramallah-based veteran Palestinian journalist. “Some of the officials said they no longer believe Abbas and that’s why they were threatened. The belief is that Abbas is just trying to show the Palestinians that he’s a tough leader who is not afraid to stand up to the Israelis and Americans. Everyone knows that these threats are meaningless because, without the agreements with Israel, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority won’t be able to survive for another day.”