Report: Move to End Security Coordination With Israel Exposes Fear Among Palestinian Leaders
The recent decisions by the PLO Central Council and PLO Executive Committee to end security coordination with Israel have ignited significant controversy within Palestinian society, according to a report published on Monday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the report said, has not implemented the decisions. In his only comment on the matter, he said that Palestinian leaders would continue “to implement the directives of the PLO Executive Committee to limit relations with Israel in accordance with [Israel’s] degree of commitment to the signed agreements.”
However, according to the report, a number of prominent Palestinians have expressed strong criticism of the potential severing of security ties with Israel. Former Nablus Mayor Ghassan Al-Shak’a, for example, said such a move would harm the Palestinian people. “[I maintain that] we kid ourselves when we say we are able to boycott Israel or sever our relations with it, especially in the two domains of security and economy, which are fundamental to the lives of the Palestinian people and the residents of the occupied West Bank,” Shak’a stated.
Deeming a move to halt security coordination with Israel unrealistic, Palestinian National Council member Faisal Abu Khadra said, “With all due respect for the Central Committee’s decision to end security coordination, it is a complete mistake, because the Palestinian police strength does not compare to that of the occupying army — and, furthermore, ending the security coordination would mean ending the Oslo Accords, which constitute the only agreement that recognized the PLO. This [agreement] is an accomplishment that cannot be denied, and Israel longs for the implementation of this decision [stopping security coordination] so that it can cancel the Oslo Accords.”
Such critics, however, drew counterfire from other Palestinian figures, such as Omar Al-Ghoul, who was an adviser to former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In a column in the PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Al-Ghoul wrote, “The Israeli leadership is not interested at all in opening any window to the option of a political arrangement. Therefore, the [Palestinian] leadership, headed by President Abbas, must implement the Executive Committee’s decision, and limit political, economic, and security relations with the Israeli state [which] reneges [on agreements].”
According to MEMRI, “The debate on the security coordination reached a turning point on March 3, 2015, when the PLO Central Council resolved to ‘end all forms of security coordination with the Israeli occupation authorities,’ on the grounds that Israel was not complying with agreements it had signed with the Palestinians. Following this decision by the Central Council, calls were heard to implement it in practice, including from prominent Fatah members such as Marwan Al-Barghouti, ‘Abbas Zaki and Tawfiq Al-Tirawi.”