Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas absolved the PA of all security agreements and understandings between Israel and the United States in a speech on Tuesday, preempting Israel’s expected annexation of portions of the West Bank.
In addition, Abbas said he will now hold Israel — as the “occupying power” — responsible for civilians in the West Bank.
“The Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine,” Abbas said.
This includes international law, protection of the two million civilians and their property. In addition, Abbas holds America responsible “for the oppression befalling the Palestinian people and we consider it a primary partner with the Israeli occupation government in all its aggressive and unfair decisions and measures against our people.”
These security agreements had delineated whether or Israel or the PA was responsible for the protection of certain areas of the West Bank and gave Ramallah political authority. Without the agreements, the Israeli army would be forced to resume control over the area.
While Palestinians hailed the announcement as serious (despite Abbas having made such threats before), Israelis were hard pressed to understand the ramifications of Abbas’ announcement.
“He’s just ratcheting up the threat level. Abbas won’t take a practical step, and is trying to put pressure on Israel,” Eitan Dangot, a former general who once headed the Defense Ministry body for coordinating with the Palestinians, told Army Radio.
An analyst at the station said the timing of the announcement — during Ramadan — is suspect and could indicate that Abbas is not serious but just pandering to his people.
Netanyahu promised during the last campaign to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It is widely believed he will do so on July 1.