Liberman to IDF: Cut non-security related communication with Palestinians

Defense minister's order comes after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding Israel end all settlement building activity.

December 25, 2016 11:38
2 minute read.
Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Saban Forum. (photo credit: SABAN FORUM)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) to cease all non-security-related communication with the Palestinian Authority, according to a Defense Ministry source.

Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of COGAT, which oversees the civil, security and economic cooperation with the PA in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was instructed to sever all non-security-related ties with PA officials.

According to the source, Liberman’s order to Mordechai is in response to the UN Security Council adopting a resolution on Friday demanding Israel end all settlement-building activity, adding that security coordination between the Israelis and Palestinians is to continue as before.

However, the source did not expand on any of the specific ramifications the decision will have on civil and economic cooperation.

PA Civil Affairs Ministry Spokesman Muhammad Maqadma said his ministry had not been informed of Liberman’s decision.

“This issue until now has not been discussed and we have not been informed of any development,” Maqadma said.

“Of course the Palestinian side will not be an observer if Israel takes such steps. We will hold tightly onto our natural rights in accordance with international law and agreements. Israel’s military rule still rules everything, and without coordination there will be no way to continue life in a normal way. At the end of the day, this will be a type of collective killing,” Maqadma added.

The cessation of non-security-related communication could have an effect on the average Palestinian, pertaining to matters such as electricity, water and work permits.

COGAT declined to comment on the matter.

Shlomo Brom, head of the Program on Israeli- Palestinian Relations at the Institute for National Security Studies, said, “If Israel nixes all non-security-related communications, I don’t see how the security cooperation will continue with the Palestinian Authority.”

Both the PA and IDF see security cooperation as a critical aspect to maintaining stability in the West Bank. Yet, Palestinians have frequently threatened to end the security cooperation with Israel in the past couple of years.

Brom added that he thinks the target audience of Liberman’s decision is the Israeli public.

“The main purpose of it is directed to the Israeli public to show that they are punishing the PA for their role in the UN Security Council resolution but it doesn’t make any sense,” Brom remarked, stating further, “The IDF and the other agencies of the Defense Ministry must explain to Liberman the consequences of his decision such as denying Palestinians work permits.”

Brom concluded that Liberman is making a risky decision: “Liberman is acting like a gambler, like someone who lost his money and then doubled his money on the same issue where he is going to lose again.”

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