The Palestinian Authority announced on Thursday evening that it has decided to halt security coordination with Israel.
The announcement was made after an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to discuss the repercussions of the Israeli military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp, during which nine Palestinians were killed and 20 others injured, including four reported in critical condition.
In 2020, the PA took a similar decision, but backtracked after five months.
In recent years, a number of Palestinian institutions belonging to the PLO and the ruling Fatah faction recommended that the Palestinian Authority halt the security coordination with Israel.
“The security coordination with the Israeli occupation government is no longer existent as of now,” said PA presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accusing Israel of committing a “massacre” against the Palestinians.
He said that more than 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since the beginning of January.
Abu Rudaineh saluted the members of the Palestinian security forces for their “honorable positions in defending the Palestinian national enterprise and the interests of the Palestinians.”
He praised Palestinians involved in the “popular resistance” against Israel and the “terrorism of the settlers.”
The Palestinian leadership also decided to ask the United Nations Security Council to provide international protection for the Palestinians,” Abu Rudaineh said.
The Palestinian leadership decided to ask the International Criminal Court to add the “file of the massacre perpetrated by Israel in Jenin to previous cases that were submitted to the court,” he said.
The Palestinian leadership decided to continue its efforts to obtain membership in international agencies and organizations, Abu Rudaineh added.
He said PA President Mahmoud Abbas has called on all Palestinian factions to meet to reach an agreement on a “comprehensive national vision and unity to confront the Israeli aggression.”
Earlier, Abbas decreed three days of mourning over the killing of nine Palestinians during an Israeli military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said another 20 Palestinians were wounded, four of them seriously, during the operation.
How did the Palestinians react?
In some parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians took to the streets to protest the Israeli “massacre” as a general strike was observed in several cities and towns.
Several Palestinian terror groups, meanwhile, threatened to avenge the death of the Palestinians in the camp.
Abbas has been facing increasing pressure to halt security coordination with Israel, especially in the aftermath of the Israeli security forces’ major counter-terrorism operation on Thursday morning, said a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah.
The official strongly criticized the US administration and accused it of failure to “stop the new extremist government in Israel from perpetrating massacres against the Palestinians.”
Abu Rudaineh and several Palestinian officials denounced the international community for remaining silent on the Israeli “massacre” in Jenin camp.
“The international powerlessness and silence is what encourages the occupation government to commit massacres against our people,” Abu Rudaineh said in a statement earlier Thursday. “Our people will remain steadfast and won’t give up Jerusalem and the holy sites, no matter what crimes and massacres the occupation forces commit.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called for “urgent international action to stop Israeli massacres and aggression.”
Shtayyeh said the military operation in the Jenin camp won’t discourage the Palestinians from pursuing their “struggle to achieve their rights.” He added that the international community must respond to the latest Israeli practices by imposing “punitive measures against those who continue to commit crimes against the defenseless Palestinian people.”
Shtayyeh claimed that the new Israeli government was seeking to find a solution to the “internal crisis it’s facing, and that’s why the Palestinians are paying the price with their blood and suffering.”
Rawhi Fattouh, Chairman of the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), accused Israel of committing a “heinous crime and massacre.”
Fattouh held the Israeli government fully responsible for the “crimes and massacres.” He too blamed the international community for “not taking any measure to rein in the fascist Israeli government.” He called for prosecuting Israeli government officials and IDF officers and soldiers before international courts for allegedly perpetrating “war crimes” against the Palestinians.
The ruling Fatah faction, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, urged Palestinians to “confront the occupation and its barbaric aggression.” The faction also criticized the international community for not taking “substantial measures” against Israel.
Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement that Israel “will pay the price for the massacre it committed in Jenin and its refugee camp.”
“The will of the Palestinian people is stronger than the crimes of the occupation,” Arouri said, urging the Palestinians to retaliate against Israel “with all available means.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, which has a strong military presence in the Jenin Refugee Camp, said the Israeli operation won’t deter its members from pursuing the “path of jihad and resistance.”
The organization said that its men were ready for another clash with Israel.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf, criticized the Palestinian decision to stop its security coordination with Israel. “We are in very close touch with senior PA officials,” she said. “Obviously, we don’t think this is the right step to take at this moment. We believe it’s quite important that the parties retain and if anything, deepen security coordination. And obviously, we’ll be continuing to talk to PA and Israeli officials all the way up through our arrival on the ground in a couple of days.”
“We have been working the phones since early this morning to get an understanding of what’s developing, what happened and to urge de-escalation and coordination between Israeli and Palestinian security forces,” she said. “We are concerned, obviously, at a couple of things. One, we understand there were civilian casualties, which is quite regrettable. And then, obviously, there is the potential for things to worsen in security terms. But we are in close touch with our diplomatic and security folks on the ground with Ambassador Nides several times this morning and I’ve been in touch with Israeli and Palestinian officials. We are urging de-escalation and calming of the situation.”
She also addressed a question about the possibility that the Palestinians will reach out to the UN following the Jenin raid. “We don’t think it makes sense to be going to international fora at this point,” said Leaf. “This is exactly the point at which they need to engage with each other. And that will be the nature of our discussions with both officials.”
Omri Nahmias in Washington contributed to this report.