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Palestine ends all agreements with Israel, US to protest Trump’s deal which could lead to West Bank annexation

The announcement came a day after Israel's new unity government agreed to press ahead with plan to annex occupied West Bank partially
Trump and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas (Getty Images)
Trump and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas (Getty Images)

In what could provide fodder to the critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy measures, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to quit all agreements made with the Israeli and American governments in the past as a result of their ‘deal of the century’ that he said led towards Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. The 84-year-old Abbas, who succeeded the iconic Yasser Arafat as the president of the Palestine State in 2005, on Tuesday, May 19, slammed the peace plan which was unveiled in late January by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are today relieved from all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and from all the obligations arising from those understandings and agreements, including those involving security.” His remarks came a day after Netanyahu swore in a new unity government with rival Benny Gantz and the two leaders agreed to go ahead with a plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank

The PA leader said the decision will nullify all agreements that have been signed between Palestine and Israel since the historic Oslo Accords of 1993 (signed in Washington DC) and 1995 (signed in Taba, Egypt). He said he was not going to abide arrangements that established a semi-autonomous Palestinian government and its vulnerable truce with Israel after taking the decision. Abbas also appealed to other countries to take a tough line against Israel and support the two-state solution.

Palestine president holds Trump responsible

Holding Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ as the reason for his move, Abbas said the decision would also mean that Israel has to bear all responsibilities of an occupying power under international rule, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which is about protecting civilians in times of war. Under the convention, people living under an occupying power are provided protections against state-sponsored violence, forcible displacement and other such potential abuses. Abbas was also critical of the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to shift the US embassy there in 2018. 

The deal,  officially known as the ‘Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future’, gives Israel jurisdiction over internationally unrecognized Jewish settlements and occupied areas that border Jordan in lieu of Palestine’s path to potential statehood. It also gives Israel jurisdiction over some desert zones along the Egyptian border given the Palestinian side renounces violence and recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. It also involves America’s pledge to invest $50 billion in the Palestinian-controlled territories.

(AFP OUT) US President Donald J. Trump (R) and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

“We hold the US administration fully responsible for the oppression of the Palestinian people, and we consider it an essential partner with the Israeli occupation government in all aggressive decisions and measures that prejudice the rights of our people,” Abbas said. “Nevertheless, we welcome all the positions of other American parties that reject the policies of this administration that are hostile to our people and their legitimate rights.”

The Trump administration has seen the US leaning more towards Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, inviting ire from various pro-Palestine quarters. Trump’s likely opponent in the November 3 election, Joe Biden, has also been critical of Trump’s policy towards Israel and Palestine though he said last month that he would not shift the US embassy back to Tel Aviv if elected as the president. However, he reiterated his support for the two-state solution on Tuesday, May 19. Speaking at a virtual gathering of Jewish Democrats, the former vice president said: “I do not support annexation", according to Jewish Insider. He said such unilateral measures would hurt the prospects of a two-state solution.

Palestine-Israel coordination still on, claims Haaretz

Meanwhile, Israel-based newspaper Haaretz cited Palestinian sources as saying that their coordination with Israel continued despite Abbas’s strong words. A Palestinian official who was present at Abbas’s press conference said while the president wanted to stop coordination, the door was not yet closed. He said the decision could see the security forces reducing engagement with their Israeli counterparts but it is difficult to foresee the coordination coming to a complete halt.