Abbas seeks ‘new strategy’ towards Israel, U.S. and Hamas

PA president under increased pressure, feels there is a conspiracy to undermine Palestinian Authority and eliminate Palestinian rights.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves in Ramallah, in the West Bank May 1, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves in Ramallah, in the West Bank May 1, 2018
At the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, PLO and Fatah officials are scheduled to meet later this month to devise a new policy towards Israel and the US, and decide on the future of relations with Hamas, Palestinian officials in Ramallah said on Monday.
The officials told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas will ask the representatives of the two bodies – the PLO and Fatah – to endorse a series of measures that will determine the future of the PA’s relations with Israel, the US and Hamas.
“The time has come for decisive decisions,” one official told the Post. “President Abbas feels that he is facing a conspiracy to undermine the Palestinian Authority and eliminate Palestinian rights.”
Another PA official said that Abbas has reached the conclusion that the US administration and the Israeli government are “determined to destroy the two-state solution in order to pave the way for the implementation” of US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also known as the “Deal of the Century.”
The officials said that Abbas was now considering a number of measures that would “send a strong message” to the international community.
“We’re under attack by the US administration and Israel,” the officials argued. “This requires the Palestinian leadership to take unprecedented and important steps to counter this offensive.”
The PLO Central Council will meet in Ramallah on October 28 to discuss the measures that need to be taken in the face of this “fierce onslaught targeting the Palestinian national project and Palestinian rights, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said Salim Za’noun, Speaker of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament.
The meeting, he said, will focus on “devising a mechanism for the implementation of previous decisions [by the PLO and Fatah] regarding the future of our relations with Israel in order to safeguard the future of the Palestinian people and their cause.”
The Palestine National Council and the Fatah Central Committee have recommended severing ties with Israel in response to the Israeli government and US administration’s policies towards the Palestinians, especially the halting of US financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
Abbas is also considering halting security coordination between PA security forces and the IDF in the West Bank, the officials told the Post. They said that Abbas will bring the issue before the PLO Central Council during its meeting later this month.
“It’s time for a new Palestinian strategy,” the officials said. “The US administration and the Israeli government have changed the rules of the game and this requires us to come up with a new strategy to confront the conspiracy against our people and cause.”
Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub was quoted last week as saying that the Palestinians are headed toward a “full disengagement with the occupation in order to protect the Palestinian people.”
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Monday that in addition to cutting all ties with Israel and the US administration, the Palestinian leadership was also considering seeking membership in 22 more international agencies and organizations.
He said that despite Israeli and US objections, the Palestinians were also studying the possibility of filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court for “war crimes in the Gaza Strip, settlement construction in the West Bank, continued assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque, crimes against Palestinian security prisoners and the decision to demolish the Beduin village of Khan al-Ahmar.”
The “assaults” on Al-Aqsa Mosque refer to visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians claim that the visits are part of an Israeli scheme to tighten Jewish control over the site.
Erekat said that the Palestinian leadership will also take decisions regarding the future of its political, economic and security ties with Israel. In addition, he added, the leadership will discuss previous recommendations by the PLO and Fatah to “revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel.” He was referring to the 1993 letter sent by Yasser Arafat to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in which he wrote that the PLO “recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.”
Erekat said the new Palestinian measures were needed to “safeguard the Palestinian national project and Palestinian political and geographic unity to prevent the separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.”
Abbas also wants the Palestinian leaders to endorse a new strategy towards Hamas in light of the failure of Egyptian efforts to end the rift between his Fatah faction and the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip. Abbas is worried that a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel would “consolidate” the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and result in the creation of a separate Palestinian state in the coastal enclave.
According to unconfirmed reports, Abbas has threatened to halt all PA funding to the Gaza Strip if Hamas reaches a truce deal with Israel. In recent weeks, the reports said, the PA president has been under heavy pressure from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to refrain from such a drastic measure out of fear that it would further aggravate the crisis in the Gaza Strip and pose a threat to the national security of Egypt and Israel.
“Abbas is hoping that the Palestinian leadership will support his plan to halt the funding to the Gaza Strip,” one of the PA officials said. “There’s no reason why the Palestinian Authority should continue to fund the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not want to allow the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian government to assume full responsibility there. Hamas needs to wake up and realize that there is a big conspiracy against the Palestinians that is being concocted by Israel and the Trump administration.”
On Monday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged the EU to pressure Israel to “stop all its violations, and to honor international law and implement UN resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict.”
Hamdallah made the appeal during a meeting in Ramallah with a delegation from the EU Parliament. He also warned that Israel was planning to destroy the two-state solution and called for providing international protection for the Palestinians.