Tensions Rise over Planned Annexation

Following the formation of Israel’s new unity government, with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to security cooperation with Israel and the United States last week, saying:

“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the state of Palestine are absolved, as of today,
of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all
the commitments based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.”

Mahmoud Abbas making a speechMahmoud Abbas making a speech (photo: Alaa Badarneh-EPA)

Playing to the media

However, he has issued similar threats before and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have assured an Israeli newspaper that security cooperation with Israel is ongoing.

Apparently, those officials told the Israelis that Abbas’ remarks were ‘for media consumption’, and that the policy is simply to stop joint patrols during Israeli raids on Palestinian areas.

Those comments were supported to some extent by the PA’s Prime Minister saying that they would prevent widespread chaos and public disorder in the West Bank despite Ramallah’s decision to end security coordination with Israel.

Portrayed as a threat

The annexation plan focuses on Israeli communities, yet Mohammad Shtayyeh portrayed the situation as a threat to Palestinian presence in West Bank – an area that the Israelis know as Judea and Samaria.

On Sunday, Turkey’s President Erdogan also portrayed the plan as a threat, when he addressed comments in an Eid al-Fitr speech to Muslims in the USA, saying that his country would not allow Israel`s new government to proceed with this annexation.

He claimed that Turkey is the “only voice” defending the Palestinians, and that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount – on which stands the al-Aqsa mosque – are “holy to three religions” and are “a red line for all Muslims in the world.”

Historic opportunity

However, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed on Monday to move forward with the annexation plan despite concerns being expressed by an increasing number of allies.

While most analysts now recognise that any hope of a two-state solution is faint, many politicians seem determined to cling to that hope.

But Donald Trump’s positive stance towards Israel’s plans have given Netanyahu a truly historic opportunity to claim land that Israelis see as belonging to them. After all, they are called Jews because they came from Judea.