US, Europe pressing PA to continue security cooperation with Israel

Security coordination between the PA and Israel has been a critical factor in maintaining calm in the West Bank.

By
December 13, 2014 23:01
2 minute read.
Kerry and Abbas

US Secretary of State Kerry meets with Palestinian President Abbas in Amman.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The United States and some European states have pressed the Palestinian Authority not to make good on its threat to halt security cooperation with Israel, according to a Palestinian official.

The issue was raised on Friday when US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the latest developments in the region.

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Tensions have been particularly high since top Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, who headed the PLO’s Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements, died of a heart attack last Wednesday during an altercation with soldiers and border policemen.

Abbas’s office said that the purpose of Kerry’s phone call was to offer condolences over Abu Ein’s death.

However, a PA official revealed on Saturday that Kerry asked Abbas to refrain from taking decisions that could “complicate the situation and damage any chance of resuming the stalled Israeli- Palestinian peace talks.”

A PA official said that Kerry and some EU government officials expressed fear that a Palestinian decision to suspend security coordination with Israel would have further escalate tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Security coordination between the PA and Israel has been a critical factor in maintaining a semblance of calm in the West Bank.



In the aftermath of the call, PLO and Fatah leaders delayed their Friday meeting on the matter until Sunday, Palestinian sources in Ramallah said.

PA Civilian Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, refused to comment on reports about the suspension of security coordination with Israel.

Some Fatah leaders, including Jibril Rajoub, claimed last week that the PA had already decided to end coordination.

Tawfik Tirawi, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said on Friday that the Palestinians have still not decided whether to halt security coordination with Israel.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 2 on Friday, “Ending the security coordination is a greater threat to the Palestinian Authority than it is to us.”

He added, “The coordination has not terminated and the ties have been preserved.”

In New York, the United Nations Security Council expressed its sorrow over Abu Ein’s death, called for a transparent investigation, and urged restraint from Israelis and Palestinians.

“The members of the Security Council encouraged the parties to ensure that a swift and transparent investigation is undertaken. Council members took note of the willingness of the government of Israel to conduct a joint investigation into the incident,” the UNSC said.

The security council called on all sides to exercise restraint and to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.

Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian pathologists conducted a joint autopsy on Thursday and agreed that Abu Ein had suffered a heart attack. But the Palestinian pathologist blamed the heart attack on IDF violence against the Palestinian minister during a demonstration near the village of Turmus Aiya.

Demonstrators had meant to plant olive trees to mark International Human Rights Day, but soldiers confronted them when they moved close to the outpost of Adei Ad and fired tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. At one point Abu Ein and border police began shouting at each other.

A video from the scene shows a border policeman briefly holding Abu Ein’s neck as he pushes him.

Witnesses say that a soldier hit Abu Ein with his rifle. At one point in the video footage, Abu Ein can be seen gasping and clutching his chest.

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