Palestinians cut 'all ties' with Israel, US

  • 1 Feb 2020

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says all relations, including security ties, are being cut with both countries, as Arab League rejects Trump's "deal of the century" plan.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas holds a placard showing maps of historical Palestine, the 1947 United Nations partition plan on Palestine, the 1948-1967 borders between the Palestinian territories and Israel, and a current map of the Palestinian territories without Israeli-annexed areas and settlements. ( AFP )

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced a cut of "all ties" with Israel and the US, including security cooperation, days after Washington unveiled a controversial Middle East plan, instantly rejected by Palestinians.

Abbas spoke at an Arab League meeting in Cairo –– where all members rejected US plan –– called after US President Donald Trump presented the "deal of the century", which is seen as staunchly favouring Israel, but offers Palestinians a pathway to a limited but splintered state.

"We are informing you that there will be no relations with you (Israel) and the US, including on security cooperation," Abbas said.

He added that the US plan was in "violation of the (autonomy) accords" launched in Oslo in 1993 by Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinian leader said the decision follows the US and Israel's "disavowal of signed agreements and international legitimacy".

Israel and the Palestinian Authority's security forces have long cooperated in policing areas of the occupied West Bank that are under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA, which continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting the Trump administration's efforts in 2017.

League rejects Trump plan

During the meeting, the Arab League announced its rejection of Trump's controversial plan.

The pan-Arab bloc said in a statement that it "rejects the US-Israeli 'deal of the century' considering that it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people."

Arab leaders also vowed "not to ... cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan." 

Israel 'an occupying power'

Israel will have to "bear responsibility as an occupying power" for the Palestinian territories, Abbas said, adding that Palestinians will press ahead with their legitimate struggle using peaceful means.

Under the plan, Israel would retain control of the contested occupied city of Jerusalem as its "undivided capital" and annex settlements on Palestinian lands.

Trump said Palestinians would be allowed to declare a capital within annexed east Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders have rejected the deal, saying it deserved to go in the "dustbin of history".

There was no immediate comment from the US or Israeli officials.

'I'll never accept this solution'

The Palestinian leader said that he'd refused to take US President Trump's phone calls and messages "because I know that he would use that to say he consulted us".

"I will never accept this solution," Abbas said. "I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Jerusalem."

"I reject the so-called 'Deal of Century' and I will not go down in history as someone who vends or gives up on Jerusalem," he said.

Abbas said that the Palestinians wouldn't accept the US as a sole mediator in any negotiations with Israel. He said they would go to the United Nations Security Council and other world and regional organisations to "explain our position".

The Arab League's head, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said the proposal revealed a "sharp turn" in the long-standing US foreign policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"This turn does not help achieve peace and a just solution," he declared.

Aboul Gheit called for the two sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to negotiate to reach a "satisfactory solution for both of them".

Trump's plan

President Trump's proposal called "slap of the century" by Palestinians would allow Israel to annex all its occupied West Bank settlements, which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as illegal, as well as the Jordan Valley, which accounts for roughly a fourth of the occupied West Bank.

In return, the Palestinians would be granted statehood in Gaza, scattered chunks of the occupied West Bank and some neighbourhoods on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem, all linked together by a new network of roads, bridges and tunnels. 

Israel would control the state's borders and airspace and maintain overall security authority. Critics of the plan say this would rob Palestinian statehood of any meaning.

The plan would abolish the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian demand. The entire agreement would be contingent on Gaza’s Hamas and other armed groups disarming, something they have always adamantly rejected.

Regional reactions

Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman attended the Tuesday unveiling in Washington, in a tacit sign of support for the US initiative.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Arab states that are close US allies, said they appreciated President Trump's efforts and called for renewed negotiations without commenting on the plan’s content.

Egypt urged in a statement Israelis and Palestinians to "carefully study" the plan.

Jordan, meanwhile, warned against any Israeli "annexation of Palestinian lands" and reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, which would include all the occupied West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel.