Palestinians doubt Abbas's threats will stop Israeli settlement annexation

“How many times can you repeat the same threat?" a PA official told the 'Post'. "How can you renounce the same agreements you said you renounced five years ago?"

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wears a protective face mask during a leadership meeting in Ramallah on May 19, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wears a protective face mask during a leadership meeting in Ramallah on May 19, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest threat to renounce all agreements with Israel mainly aims to send a warning to the new Israeli government and the international community, Palestinian officials said Wednesday.
Noting that Abbas has stopped short of canceling the agreements, the officials said they were skeptical that the threat will stop Israel from proceeding with its intention to extend Israeli law to parts of the West Bank. Abbas does not hold powerful cards that allow him to threaten Israel and the US, they said.
Abbas’s previous threats had failed to stop Washington from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the officials said. The threats also have failed to change Israel’s policies and measures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, they added.
Some officials expressed hope that his threat would increase pressure on the Israeli government to refrain from implementing its plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. They also voiced hope that the international community would respond to Abbas’s threat by exerting more pressure on Israel to refrain from taking any unilateral move in the West Bank.
“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas announced during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Tuesday night.
A senior PA security official on Wednesday said he was unaware of any instructions from the Palestinian leadership to halt security coordination with Israel.
“We only heard from the Israeli media that security coordination has been stopped,” he said. “But so far, we haven’t received any order from our political or security leaders.”
The Palestinian leadership would not make any real decisions regarding the agreements with Israel in the immediate future, a PLO official said Wednesday.
“We are still hopeful that the Israeli government and the US administration will get the message and change their policies and measures,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “President Abbas made an announcement last night, and we are waiting to see how the world is going to react. In any case, we won’t take any real measures before the Israeli government officially announces the annexation of parts of the West Bank.”
A Fatah official said he and many Palestinians do not believe Abbas’s threat would make an impression on anyone.
“Since 2015, President Abbas has been reading from the same paper,” the official told the Post. “How many times can you repeat the same threat? How can you renounce the same agreements you said you renounced five years ago? That’s why Israel and many in the international community no longer take these threats seriously.”
A number of Palestinian officials tried to ask Abbas during the Tuesday meeting whether there was a mechanism or timetable for implementation of his latest threat, Palestinian sources said. His aides ordered the officials to shut up or face being forcibly removed from the room, the sources said.
“It was a stormy meeting,” a Ramallah-based veteran Palestinian journalist said. “Some of the officials said they no longer believe Abbas, and that’s why they were threatened. The belief is that Abbas is just trying to show the Palestinians that he’s a tough leader who is not afraid to stand up to the Israelis and Americans. Everyone knows that these threats are meaningless, because without the agreements with Israel, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority won’t be able to survive for another day.”
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov plans to meet with Abbas on Thursday to better understand the decisions the Palestinian leadership took on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, he told the UN Security Council the PLO’s decision to withdraw from security arrangements and past agreements was a cry for help and a bid for peace.
“Whatever our individual assessments of the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli threat of annexation may be, it is certainly one thing: It is a desperate cry for help,” Mladenov said. “It is a call for immediate action. It is a cry for help from a generation of a leadership that has invested its life in building institutions and preparing for statehood for over a quarter of a century.”
“The Palestinian leadership is not threatening,” he said. “It is calling for urgent action to preserve the prospect of peace.”
Israel must abandon its pursuit of annexation, Mladenov said.
Despite the declaration, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the US has “hope that the security arrangements will continue to be in place.”
“I’m not exactly sure what to make of his statement... but I regret that he has decided to abrogate these agreements,” he said at a press conference.
The US administration laid out a clear vision for peace, Pompeo said, adding: “We asked the Israelis and the Palestinians to agree that would be the basis for negotiations between them. The Israelis have accepted that. The Palestinians have continued to refuse to just simply sit down and enter into negotiation based on President [Donald] Trump’s vision for peace there.”
The administration’s vision for peace would lead to better lives for the Palestinian people, he said.
“It acknowledges that in a very clear and unambiguous way,” Pompeo said. “We hope that the leadership in the Palestinian Authority will see that that’s in their people’s best interest, and that we can move out in that way according to the vision that was laid out.”