Palestinian Authority could rescind recognition of Israel, Abbas warns Blinken

The PLO Central Committee agreed in February to rescind its recognition of Israel and halt its security coordination with Israel, but the PA has yet to implement that decision.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 25, 2021 (photo credit: FLASH90)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 25, 2021
(photo credit: FLASH90)

The Palestinian Authority could rescind its recognition of Israel and halt its security coordination with Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when the two men met in Ramallah.

The PLO Central Committee agreed in February to take both steps but the PA has yet to implement that decision.

Continued Israeli settlement activity, violence to the Palestinians and disruptions at al-Haram al-Sharif, known also as the Temple Mount, could push the PA to affirm the PLO Central Committee’s decisions, Abbas said.

“The continuation of these Israeli unilateral actions will lead in the near future to a decision by the Palestinian Central Committee that would be implemented soon,” Abbas told Blinken. “What is happening in Palestine is something that we cannot be silent about.”

This was the second meeting between Blinken and Abbas since US President Joe Biden was sworn into office last year. Biden has worked to restore ties with the PA, which were severed during the former Trump administration.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) arrives for a  meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 25, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) arrives for a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 25, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)

The administration has had little to offer the PA beyond economic gestures and ensuring restrained Israeli settlement activity.

Blinken told Abbas, “The US is committed to rebuilding our relationship with the PA and with the Palestinian people. We’ve been focused on concrete ways to help improve the lives of Palestinians.”

Blinken touted the US decision to restore over $300 million in annual funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency as well as additional economic assistance that brought US financial support to the Palestinians to over half a billion dollars in 2021.

Prior to meeting with Abbas, Blinken had announced a new $3.3m. grant to the NGO EcoPeace, composed of Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, so that it can work on water scarcity issues in the West Bank and Gaza. The funds come from the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, by which $250m. has been allocated for Israeli-Palestinian projects.

Blinken spoke of US support for a two-state resolution to the conflict.

“Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve to live with equal measures of freedom, of opportunity, security, of dignity,” Blinken said. He noted that Israelis and Palestinians were far apart on the principal issues that would allow for two states.

“The two sides are very far apart, so we’ll continue our work, step by step, to try to bring them closer. We’ll work to prevent actions by either side that could raise tensions.

“That includes settlement expansion, settler violence, home demolitions, evictions, payments to people convicted of terrorism, incitements to violence,” Blinken said.

He also spoke of his concern that the overlapping holidays of Ramadan, Easter and Passover might lead to an outbreak of violence.

Blinken did not make any announcements on two issues that have been significant to the PA. The first is the reopening of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians until former US president Donald Trump closed it in 2019.

Abbas also asked the Biden administration to rescind the 1987 congressional designation of the PLO as a terrorist group, which US presidents for more than 30 years have waived every six months.

“We stress the importance of implementing” measures that Biden believes in, Abbas said.

This includes the implementation of a “two-state solution and the putting an end to settlements and the violence of settlers and maintaining the historical status in al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing unilateral actions inside,” Abbas said.

This also includes the “reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem, and the annulment of all American laws that consider the PLO a terrorist organization inciting violence.”

The Biden administration has not put forward a peace plan nor has it spoken of unveiling one.

Abbas told Biden, “The priority should always be toward finding a political solution that would end the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine along the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

This should include resolving “all permanent status issues, including the issues of the refugees and the release of all prisoners under the supervision and sponsorship of the Quartet and according to the – to international resolutions.”

Abbas accused the world of double standards when it came to Israel, appearing to allude to the way that the international community has sanctioned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“The latest incidents in Europe have proven that there are double standards being flagrantly observed around the world,” Abbas said.

“In spite of the crimes of the Israeli occupation that have reached a stage of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination... we don’t find any party that would hold Israel accountable for its actions as it acts as a state above all law,” Abbas said.

“What is happening in Palestine is something that we cannot be silent about,” he said.