Palestinian Authority police officers stand guard in the West Bank [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority’s threats to halt security cooperation with Israel are hollow, Immigrant and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin told reporters at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
“Such coordination does more to protect Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] than it does Israel,” Elkin said.
The PA has been issuing such statements for more than a year, he added. “I think it’s an idle threat,” Elkin said.
The prospect of breaking off security coordination so frightens the Palestinian leadership that they themselves would pull back from such a move, he explained.
Elkin spoke in response to reports in the Israeli media that the PA had informed Israel it would cease security coordination if the IDF continued its incursions into Area A of the West Bank, which under the Oslo Accords is under Palestinian civil and security control.
According to other reports, PA security officials who recently met with their Israeli counterparts notified them of the decision to suspend their security coordination.
The officials reportedly said that the PA leadership decided to halt security coordination with Israel in light of what they called the government’s refusal to honor agreements signed between the two sides.
The Prime Minister’s Office denied that it had received any communication from the PA on the matter.
Security sources told The Jerusalem Post they knew of no change regarding coordination with their Palestinian peers.
PA officials on Sunday made contradictory statements regarding security coordination between the PA and Israel.
The officials – Majed Faraj, Ziad Hab al-Reeh and Hussein al-Sheikh – are also reported to have told their Israeli counterparts that the suspension of security coordination would be phased.
Sheikh, who serves as minister for civilian affairs, told Fatah leaders last week that he and his colleagues informed Israel that the PA leadership has decided to “limit” its relations with Israel. He did not elaborate what exactly this meant.
PLO Executive Committee member Ghassan Shaka’ah said the PA leadership had decided to “reduce the level of coordination between the two sides in various fields.”
Shaka’ah said that the ultimate goal was to end the PA’s security coordination with Israel. He admitted, however, that halting all cooperation with Israel would have negative repercussions for the Palestinian people, in particular with regard to humanitarian and economic issues. He noted, for example, that it was impossible to register a newborn child with the PA’s Interior Ministry without first obtaining permission from Israel.
A senior Fatah official in Ramallah said that the PA leadership was facing a crisis regarding its repeated threat to end security cooperation with Israel. “We are facing a real crisis,” he said. “If we implement the decision [to halt security coordination], we will suffer; likewise, we will suffer if we fail to implement it.”
Amin Maqboul, secretary- general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that no decision had been made to cut security ties with Israel. However, he predicted that such a decision would be taken by the end of the month.
Maqboul added the PA decision was contingent on Israel’s response to a number of Palestinian demands. These include halting IDF activities in PA-controlled territories, stopping “assassinations” and arrests, reopening closed PLO institutions in Jerusalem, and releasing tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA.
“We have decided to end security coordination if Israel does not accept our demands,” Maqboul said. “This time we are serious, and these are not just threats.”