Abbas announced the suspension of Palestinian ties with Israel. What, if any, are the ramifications of his announcement?
Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas announced Friday night that the PA is suspending all contact with Israel until it removes the security measures it recently introduced at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The decision includes the cessation of the security coordination with Israel, the first such move in a decade.
Abbas relies heavily on Israel to help the PA maintain control over the Palestinian street and to fend off attempts by rival Palestinian factions to overthrow Abbas’ Fatah party.
Abbas cut a diplomatic visit to China short this week as tensions escalated in Jerusalem, and headed a joint meeting for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah Central Committee to discuss strategy in confronting the Israeli measures, the PA’s WAFA news agency reported.
Israel says the metal detectors are a necessary security measure to prevent more attacks. Muslims allege that Israel is trying to expand its control at the Muslim-administered site under the guise of security — a claim Israel denies.
Palestinians have protested the measures by praying outside of Al-Aqsa’s gates, with mass demonstrations across Jerusalem on Friday and Saturday erupting into violent clashes that left three protesters dead.
Abbas’ ‘Meaningless’ Measures
“In the name of the Palestinian leadership, I declare the suspension of all contacts with the occupying country on all levels until Israel revokes all its measures against our Palestinian people and Jerusalem, particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and preserve the historic status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abbas said at the end of the meeting held in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
“We also reject the so-called electronic gates because they are a political move hiding under the cover of an imaginary security pretext that aims to control Al-Aqsa Mosque and evade the peace process as well as turn the conflict from a political one to a religious conflict,” he added.
According to WAFA, Abbas said that he has allocated $25 million “to help the steadfastness of the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem,” though it was unclear from the report exactly how these funds would be used.
Abbas also called for a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, a PLO policy-making entity, to discuss steps to “protect the Palestinian national project and the Palestinian right to self determination and statehood,” WAFA reported.
Hamas said Abbas’ announcement to sever relations with Israel “are meaningless without the lifting of the restrictions on Gaza, stopping security coordination (with Israel), and an end to reigning in the resistance to the occupation.”
Critics reacted with skepticism to Abbas’ decision to cut ties with Israel, given the PA’s policy of security coordination with Israeli forces and the PA’s lack of economic independence due to various tax and trade agreements with Israel.