Mar. 6, 2015 by Darius
Deteriorating relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have led the PA to play perhaps the strongest card it had left: the PA’s central council voted yesterday to suspend all security cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas still needs to sign off on the vote to make the suspension of security ties a reality. But Abbas has indicated that he will follow the vote of the council. If Abbas follows through, the suspension of security cooperation could pave the way for the collapse of the entire relationship between Israel and the PA and perhaps even the end of the PA as an organization.
The Palestinian Authority’s cooperation and coordination with Israel on matters of security has played a major role in keeping the West Bank quiet, or, at least, not openly violent. If coordination is indeed suspended, Israel will likely be required to go back to a pre-Oslo level of military occupation in the West Bank.
The PA’s decision is fully understandable given Israeli actions in recent weeks (such as withholding tax revenues, again, to bring the West Bank to its knees economically), but, as often seems to be the case, the PA has chosen a woefully tone-deaf time to announce its decision. Israeli parliamentary elections will be held in less than two weeks. Right now, the race between Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and center-left parties is too close to call. But Netanyahu and his confederates campaign heavily on the security issue, while the opposition has focused more on domestic and economic issues, such as the high cost of living and housing shortages.
The Palestinian Authority has an obvious stake in the election outcome. If the center-left wins the election, the resulting Israeli government will be infinitely more conducive to a peace deal. After all, under Netanyahu, Israel’s willingness to engage in meaningful diplomacy with the PA has been statistically zero. But the PA’s announcement on suspending security cooperation will raise the spectre of security risks to Israeli voters, which plays right into Netanyahu’s hands.
I don’t know who advises the PA on political strategy, but it seems to me that person should be out of a job.