PLO official calls for nixing agreements with Israel

At Tuesday meeting, Palestinian leaders to weigh response to annexation plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020.
Palestinian officials on Monday condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks about applying Israeli law over parts of the West Bank, and said the Palestinian leadership would meet on Tuesday to discuss its response to the Israeli plan.
The officials denounced the new Israeli government, which was sworn in on Sunday, as a “government of annexation and war,” and called on the international community to pressure Israel to refrain from taking unilateral steps “that would jeopardize security and stability in the region.”
Speaking before the swearing-in of his new government in the Knesset, Netanyahu said that “the time has come to apply Israeli law [over West Bank settlements] and to write a new, glorious chapter in the annals of Zionism.” He argued that annexation “will not make peace more distant; it will bring it closer. Peace can only be based on truth, and everyone knows it.”
A PLO official told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership will hold a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the “dangers” of the annexation plan and its impact on Palestinian-Israeli relations.
“It seems Netanyahu is determined to proceed with his annexation plan, notwithstanding opposition from the international community and in violation of international law,” the official said. “The time has come for our leadership to take decisive and historic decisions to confront Israeli-American conspiracies against our people.”
Fatah leaders who met in Ramallah on Monday warned of the Israeli government’s “destructive policies” and called on Palestinians to prepare for “defending their rights and dignity.”
A Fatah official who attended the meeting told the Post that he and his colleagues were expecting the Palestinian leadership to take “real” measures during its meeting on Tuesday to foil the Israeli annexation plan. “Netanyahu claims that annexation will bring peace,” the official remarked. “This is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. His new government is a government of war and annexation. This is a very dangerous government that wants to end the two-state solution with the backing of the US administration.”
The Palestinian leadership was scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah last Saturday to discuss its response to the annexation plan. The meeting, however, was called off, apparently pending the formation of the new coalition government. The postponement of the meeting drew criticism from Hamas and other Palestinian groups and figures, who claimed it was a sign that the Palestinian leadership was not serious about carrying out its threats to renounce all agreements with Israel.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is facing growing pressure from some Palestinians to walk away from the agreements, halt security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF and revoke PLO recognition of Israel in response to the policies and decisions of the Israeli government and the US administration in the past few years.
Saleh Ra’fat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, strongly condemned Netanyahu’s statements about applying Israeli law to parts of the West Bank. “The Palestinian response to the program of the Israeli government requires the Palestinian leadership to immediately implement the decisions of the Palestine National Council and the [PLO] Central Council, which decided that all Israeli-Palestinian agreements have ended because Israel has evaded all of its obligations under the terms of these agreements,” Ra’fat said.
He called on the Palestinian leadership to immediately cut all its ties with the Israeli government, including security coordination.
The PLO official also called on the Palestinian leadership to ask the UN Security Council and General Assembly to impose sanctions on Israel for “destroying the two-state solution and consecrating its colonial occupation of the territories of the Palestinian state.”
Ra’fat pointed out that the “threat to annex large parts of the West Bank comes within the framework of implementing the Deal of the Century,” a reference to US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East. He further urged Arab states not to normalize their relations with Israel in response to the Israeli intention to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
In 2018, the PLO Central Council approved a recommendation by the PLO Executive Committee concerning implementation of the Palestine National Council’s decisions on relations with Israel. These decisions include revoking recognition of Israel until it recognizes a Palestinian state, termination of security coordination with Israel and disengagement from the Paris Protocol for economic cooperation between the two sides.
Another PLO official, Ahmed Majdalani, said that Netanyahu’s statements on Sunday “don’t serve any peace, but increased dangers to security and stability in the region.”
Netanyahu’s statements concerning annexation “mark the end of the two-state solution and undermine the foundations of the peace process,” Majdalani warned. “The Palestinian leadership won’t remain committed to the agreements [with Israel].”
The international community, he added, “must force Israel to abide by international law and resolutions before recognizing the new [Israeli] government.” The annexation policy is part of the US Deal of the Century, “and this requires a response from the international community against the new occupation government,” Majdalani said.
Hassan Asfour, a former Palestinian cabinet minister and editor of the Amad online media outlet described the new government as a “government of corruption and Judaization.” Asfour said that while he believes the West Bank and Jerusalem “may not explode in response to the decision to formally annex the settlements, the latest developments will open a new chapter in the conflict and will put the Palestinian leadership in front of difficult options.” He warned that the “[Palestinian leadership’s] silence on annexation and Judaization will transform it into an official collaborator with the enemy and occupiers.”
Sufyan Abu Zayda, a senior Fatah official from the Gaza Strip, said it was not certain that the annexation plan would be implemented in July. “There are many considerations that need to be taken into account, the most important of which is the US position, specifically President Trump,” Abu Zayda said. “What is certain, however, is that the project of gradual annexation is continuing, since they [Israel] are acting as if the Palestinian Authority doesn’t exist and as if there are no agreements between the two sides.”
Abu Zayda said he believes that the absence of far-right parties such as Yamina from the new coalition would ease pressure on Netanyahu to make a decision regarding annexation.