Monday, April 4, 2016

Israel, PA said to meet on future of security coordination

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Israeli security officials met with their counterparts from the Palestinian Authority Wednesday night in Jerusalem to discuss the fate of security coordination between the two sides, Palestinian media reported.

The Israeli delegation reportedly delivered its response to a proposal presented last February by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the fate of security arrangements between the two sides.
The Palestinian news site Safa cited a PA official who said “the results of the meeting will become clear within a few days.”

Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Safa that the committee is set to meet next Sunday with Abbas to discuss a number of issues, among them the fate of agreements between the PA and Israel.

Officials in Israel and the PA have expressed interest in continuing security coordination, even as diplomatic ties have withered amid the ongoing wave of violence and Palestinian terrorism.

However, senior Palestinian political officials have said behind closed doors that the PA has on several occasions warned Israeli officials from the Shin Bet security service, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and the IDF that security coordination between the two sides could not continue as long as the army operates in the West Bank’s Area A territories, which are under Palestinian security control.

The Times of Israel reported recently that the Palestinian Authority rejected an Israeli offer presented in late February to end IDF operations in Ramallah and Jericho as a first step toward enhancing security coordination, which would later extend to other areas in the West Bank.

Sources speaking to The Times of Israel, Palestinian sources said the Palestinian Authority had decided to reject the Israeli proposal as it did not provide concrete steps toward ending the IDF’s military presence in all major West Bank cities.

The sources added that while Israeli officials were skeptical of the PA’s threats to end security cooperation, the Palestinian governing body was seriously weighing such an option if its demands were not met.

Both sides see the security cooperation as key to keeping Hamas and other terror groups that could threaten Fatah’s control of the PA in check. However, the collapse of the PA would effectively spell the end of any security coordination and likely spiral into a breakout of violence in the West Bank, Israeli defense officials maintain.

Israeli officials have warned that the PA may be on the verge of collapse due to the lack of a successor to the octogenarian Abbas, an unwillingness to hold elections for the presidency, and a surplus of weapons in the West Bank, which could allow policemen, security forces and others with illegal weapons to stage a coup.