Abbas Threatens to Cut Ties to Israel


Staff member
Abbas Threatens to Cut Ties to Israel
Why the PA leader is desperate to look tough on the Jewish state.
By Hugh Fitzgerald

Is it every year, or every other year, that President-For-Life of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end all ties to Israel? Sometimes he says he’s done it, but nothing actually changes. Sometimes he says he’s going to do it, and then doesn’t. Sometimes he says he’s waiting for a meeting of the PA leadership to discuss it, then cancels the meeting. A report on the latest farcical threat by the angry rais in Ramallah is here: “Bennett: UN must stop serving terrorists’ agenda,” by Lahav Harkov and Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, April 22, 2022:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has again threatened to halt security coordination and suspend Palestinian recognition of Israel.

The latest threat was made during a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday night with US administration envoys Yael Lempert, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs….

Abbas usually makes this threat to cut ties with Israel when he feels the hot breath down his back of Hamas and other even more violent rivals; it’s a way of re-establishing his anti-Israel bonafides with the doubting thomases: he’s assuring them that he still knows how to be tough on Israel, and don’t anyone forget it.

Earlier this week, Abbas abruptly called off an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership that was scheduled to take place in Ramallah on Sunday night to discuss the implementation of a resolution by the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) to terminate all agreements with Israel, including the security coordination and Palestinian recognition of Israel.…

Of course, the only conceivable reason why Abbas called off the emergency meeting was to prevent the Palestinian leadership from meeting. He doesn’t want to discuss how to implement that resolution that the Palestinian Central Committee passed in February, that would have required the PA to terminate all ties to Israel – including security coordination – and most comical of all, would have the PA end its “recognition” of Israel. The Israelis, no doubt, are quivering at the very thought.

During the meeting with the US diplomats, Abbas demanded urgent intervention from the US administration to “stop Israel’s escalation in the Palestinian territories,” said senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh, who attended the meeting.

There has been no “escalation” by Israel. There has, instead, been a steady, relentless, measured attempt to bring the rioters on the Temple Mount under control. Ever since April 15, Palestinian and Israeli Arabs have been throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and other objects from the Temple Mount onto Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall far below, and at the Israeli police manfully trying to keep the peace on the Mount. Some of those rioters have been stockpiling rocks and other weapons inside Al-Aqsa itself; they have also been flinging the weapons from inside the mosque, at the Israeli police. Those police have gone into Al-Aqsa briefly, not to interrupt the worshippers, but to seize the cache of weapons and, where possible, to collar some of the rioters. In fact, there are scenes the Israelis have captured on video – they have been posted online — of Arab worshippers outside Al-Aqsa attacking rioters, preventing them from entering the mosque, even pushing them away, so that those worshippers can pray in peace.

The Israelis do not “escalate,” but they do react; when the level of Arab violence rises, so does the firmness of the police response.

Sheikh described the meeting as “clear and frank,” adding that Abbas blamed the occupation for the escalation and the absence of a political horizon, which will push us to implement the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council soon.”

Implement away, PA. End that security coordination with Israel’s Shin Bet, and see what that does to security in the West Bank. Without Israeli intelligence, and Israeli help in rounding up members of Hamas and PIJ, who are perhaps a greater danger to Abbas and the PA than they are to Israel, Mahmoud Abbas’ regime would have a much harder time staying in power. The security coordination with Israel is not something he can end without harming his own hold on the PA presidency..

A statement published by the PA president’s office after the meeting said that he called on President Biden and his administration “to intervene immediately and urgently to assume their responsibilities, given the seriousness of the situation as a result of the Israeli measures in all Palestinian territories, especially Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.”…

The statement from Abbas’ office is absurd. How does Abbas think the Bidenites can “intervene immediately and urgently” to change Israel’s determination to protect its own citizens at the Western Wall, and to maintain order on the Temple Mount? So far the Bidenites have, surprisingly, shown a sympathetic understanding of Israel as it tries to contain the Arab violence. Besides, what pressure could the Bidenites bring to bear on Israel at this point? If they tried to make Israel halt its defense of its own citizens now under Arab attack, they know that they can expect a terrific pushback from Congress, including from those Democratic members who want to be re-elected in November.

Abbas said that in light of the absence of “the political horizon and an Israeli refusal to stop unilateral actions and abide by the signed agreements, the Palestinian leadership will soon have the right to implement the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council,” according to the statement.

The “unilateral actions” are those undertaken by the Palestinians themselves, who on April 15 suddenly started rioting on the top of the Temple Mount; the Israelis have merely been reacting to potentially lethal attacks on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, and on the police attempting to keep order on the Mount.

The PA president also called on the Biden administration to fulfill its promises to the Palestinians, including the pledge to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem that served as a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians and was closed down in 2018 by the Trump administration.…

Since that pledge was made by Joe Biden, to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem that in 2018 had been folded into the American Embassy, the Bidenites have no doubt been chagrined to discover that they will not be able to fulfill that promise. They have been made aware of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which prohibits states from opening (or reopening) consulates in what are defined as the “receiving” states, without the express permission of those “receiving” states. Both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have made clear that Israel will not agree, as the receiving state, to any such “consulate to the Palestinians” being opened in Jerusalem. One wonders why the Bidenites have not let the Palestinians know about this principle of international law which, after all, gets them off the hook: “We’d like to open the consulate, but the Vienna Convention won’t allow it.” Or could they perhaps still be harboring the hope that they will be able to change the minds of Bennett and Lapid?

The Palestinian Affairs Unit at the US Embassy said that Lempert and Amr met with Abbas and his top advisers “to discuss the need for all parties to call and work for calm, especially in Jerusalem, and our mutual commitment to a two-state solution.”

The Palestinians won’t be working for calm, but intend to keep up the rioting on the Temple Mount, and to keep inciting Arab violence all over Jerusalem and the West Bank by insisting that the Israelis intend to “seize the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Israel has shown over the past week that it knows how to seize both weapons and rioters, on the Temple Mount and in the mosque, so well, in fact, that 100,000 Muslim worshippers felt safe enough to come to the Temple Mount on April 22 not to riot, but to pray.

As for Mahmoud Abbas’ threat to cut ties to Israel, let him this time follow through with that threat. He will regret it. First, if security coordination with Israel ends, the PA security services without Shin Bet’s input will have a much harder time controlling Abbas’ enemies in Hamas and the PIJ who have been expanding their numbers in the West Bank. Second, if the PA cuts all its ties with Israel, the current supplies of water that Israel provides the PA could also be ended. Third, energy sent to the PA would also be halted, after the PA “cuts all ties” to Israel; almost all of the liquid fuel – oil, natural gas — used in the Palestinian territories, is supplied by or via Israel. Fourth, the money that Israel now collects in taxes on imports meant for the Palestinians, and which it dutifully transfers to the PA — save for an amount equivalent to what the PA spends on its “Pay-For-Slay” program, that Israel holds onto — would now be completely withheld. This would lead to the greatest economic crisis in the PA’s history. Fifth, if all ties are cut, Palestinians would likely be prevented from using Israeli hospitals and being treated by Israeli medical personnel. Such care has saved many Palestinian lives. Even the leaders of the PA and Hamas, and their families, have chosen to be treated in Israeli, not Palestinian or other Arab, medical facilities. Sixth, about 140,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have been given work permits, allowing them to work in Israel, including the settlements. They receive much higher wages from Israeli employers than they could receive from Palestinian employers, assuming they would have jobs in the PA territories. Their earnings in Israel are an economic lifeline for their extended families. If the PA cuts all ties to Israel, those 140,000 workers would lose their jobs in Israel and again be condemned either to low-wage jobs at home or, in many cases, to unemployment.

Mahmoud Abbas will have to think long and hard before he makes a move — ending all ties to the Jewish state — that does very little harm to Israel, and a great deal of harm to the Palestinian Authority. But if he does decide to carry out his threat, no one in Israel should try to stop him. He won’t be able to sustain that cutting of the PA’s ties to the Jewish state for long.