Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reportedly threatening to officially dismantle the PA and its security forces in the West Bank should peace negotiations with Israel fail. Should Abbas follow through on his threat, he would create one of the largest security and diplomatic problems for Israel.
Palestinian sources cited by Yedioth Ahronoth said that Abbas and his top advisers are seriously mulling over any future decisions, which would also include canceling the 1993 Oslo Accords. According to the sources, should Abbas announce the PA is dissolved, the PA would be deemed a “government under occupation” without full sovereignty and all responsibility of the West Bank would be moved to Israel.
The current round of peace talks have come to a complete standstill, as both Israel and the PA are not able to agree to terms to extend peace talks. The United States, acting as mediator, has been working overtime with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to reach an extension agreement before the April 29 deadline.
Peace talks took a complete downward spiral when Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian terrorists from prison in the face of increased Palestinian demands without any guarantee of future peace talks. In response, the PA submitted applications to join 14 international organizations in a blatant breach of terms.
Israel has been made aware of Abbas’s threat via official channels. One of the major concerns of Israel would be the abolishment of PA security forces that operate in the West Bank. With security virtually gone, the chances of Palestinian unrest and violence increases exponentially. The lack of security forces would also be prime opportunity for terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to move into the region.
Yedioth reported that the Abbas and his government would vote on the matter during a scheduled PLO meeting on Saturday, three days before the deadline of current peace talks. Should the PA vote to dismantle, the move would most definitely cause a surge in diplomatic and legal action against Israel.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett mocked Abbas’s threat, telling Maariv that Abbas is only “encouraging terrorism against Israel” with his threats.
“If he wants to go, we won’t stop him. Israel won’t conduct negotiations with a gun to our head,” Bennett said.
The US has weighed in on Abbas’s threat, calling the potential move an “extreme step” that would radically change relations between Washington and Ramallah. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that the move would have “grave implications” and would completely alter US monetary support of the Palestinian people.
“A great deal of effort has gone into building Palestinian institutions by Palestinians as well as the international community, and it would certainly not be in the interests of the Palestinian people for all of that to be lost. We – the United Sates has put millions of dollars into this effort. It would obviously have very serious implications for our relationship, including our assistance going forward,” Psaki said.
With only seven days left until the current round of peace negotiations expire, Psaki announced that US Secretary of State John Kerry had no intentions of returning to the region to salvage talks. Psaki confirmed that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were continuing to “work to find the basis for extending negotiations.”
However, while the US is hopeful, “unfortunately developments over the last month made it necessary to find a new formula or mechanism to move it forward,” she said. “But, we hope that the parties can reach an agreement as soon as possible. As long as they want to find a way to continue negotiations, we are willing to help them do that.”