Cutting Israel-PA coordination: The ace in the sleeve Mahmoud Abbas can’t use

Extracting the Palestinian Authority from its security and logistical ties with Israel may be a powerful threat, but it's one almost impossible to execute, officials say

Palestinian police

Middle East Eye reports:

President Mahmoud Abbas’ statement on Saturday [1 February] couldn’t have seemed more clear: in the face of impending Israeli annexation and the US’ humiliating “deal of the century”, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was cutting security ties to both countries.

Yet the next day the close security cooperation continued as normal, with the liaison offices operating as if nothing had happened.

The Palestinian leadership has been appalled by Donald Trump’s plan to address the Israel-Palestine conflict, a 180-page document that essentially backed Israeli claims on large areas of the occupied West Bank and undermined Palestinian statehood.  It has opened the door for Israel to formally annex the Jordan Valley and illegal Israeli settlements, more than a third of the West Bank, and left the Palestinian Authority scrambling to confront this threat.

However, despite Abbas’ strong words at an Arab League summit in Cairo two days ago, immediately severing ties was never part of Abbas’ thinking, according to a senior Palestinian government official.  The announcement, the source said, was instead “a hint” he would use “an important card” to pressure the US and Israel.  “Abbas uses all his cards to confront the US-Israeli project and its implications, especially security cooperation,” he said.

For Israel, outsourcing much of its intelligence gathering and security implementation in the West Bank to the PA is highly useful and helps reduce attacks on its forces and citizens.  The Fatah-dominated PA, meanwhile, uses information handed to it by Israel to maintain its dominance and undermine Fatah’s rival Hamas.

Washington, too, receives benefits from the arrangement, the senior government official said.

“The Palestinian Authority is part of the West’s war on terrorism, and President Abbas wanted to remind the Americans and Israelis that this role has a political price, and without this price, it cannot continue,” he said.

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