Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the media after his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan October 22, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Central Council, the second highest decision-making body in the Palestine Liberation Organization, voted in favor of some decisions on Monday night that could have serious implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Central Council, which was convened on Sunday and Monday in Ramallah, decided to recommend that the PLO Executive Committee suspend the PLO’s recognition of Israel.
The body assigned the PLO Executive Committee with making the move “until Israel recognizes the State of Palestine along 1967 borders, annuls its annexation of east Jerusalem and ends settlement building.”
The PLO’s recognition of Israel in 1993 paved the way to a number of agreements that established the Palestinian Authority and enabled cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian institutions.
The Central Council also decided to end security coordination between the PA security forces and Israel, and to move to establish economic independence from the Jewish state.
Palestinian and Israeli security officials agree security coordination is a key element of maintaining stability in the West Bank.
The PLO body also voted to declare that the US is no longer “a partner” in the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, until it annuls its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
For more than 20 years, the US has sponsored the peace process and it is the only party with which Israel has agreed to work.
While these Central Council decisions could have major consequences for the future of the peace process and stability in the West Bank and Israel, their implementation almost entirely depends on one person – PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
According to PLO Executive Committee Member Wasel Abu Yousif, there is no question the decisions will be implemented, because they are binding.
But Abbas, who is the PLO chairman, PA president and Fatah chief, has shown in the past that he is willing to neglect implementing decisions the Central Council has made.
In 2015, the Central Council decided to end security coordination between the PA and Israel, but, for more than two years, Abbas did not make a move to stop security coordination.
Only in the summer of 2017, amid a dispute between the Palestinians and Israel over the Temple Mount, did Abbas announce the suspension of security cooperation.
But according to PA Police chief Hazem Atallah, security coordination was never completely halted, and was fully restored in late October.
The Central Council voted on Monday night to advance a number of major decisions, but based on Abbas’s past, there is no guarantee they will be implemented.