Will Mahmoud Abbas really stop PA collaboration with Israel?

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced for the umpteenth time on Tuesday that he is canceling all agreements with Israel, in protest over the occupying power’s plans to forge ahead with annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the European Union has bowed to Israeli pressure once again.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments,” Abbas told a gathering of officials in Ramallah, adding that this included security agreements.

I told Al Jazeera that Abbas routinely makes such statements, but that there was no reason to take this one any more seriously than previous announcements.

Guns to be turned only on Palestinians

The Palestinian Authority, created after Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo accords in 1993, exists for only one purpose: to act as a native auxiliary police force for Israel.

I pointed out that Israel allows Palestinian Authority security forces to carry guns, but these guns are only for use against other Palestinians. This collaboration between the PA and Israel is officially known as “security coordination.”

Notably, even as Abbas was making his announcement, PA officials were reassuring Israeli media that little was likely to change.

Haaretz reported that “Palestinian officials who attended the meeting said the president intends to stop coordination, but had not yet ‘closed the door.’”

According to the Tel Aviv newspaper, a Palestinian official informed it that “the security forces may lower the level of engagement with their counterparts in Israel, but it is not yet possible to determine that coordination will be completely stopped.”

“A Palestinian security official said that despite Abbas’ statements, every move taken by the PA requires coordination with Israel,” Haaretz reported.

According to the same source, “Abbas stated that the authority is committed to combating terrorism, as defined, which requires continued security coordination between the states.”

The Al Jazeera host asked me if Abbas’ statement amounted to mere sabre-rattling. My response: You can’t rattle a sabre you don’t have.

The only meaningful move Abbas could make would be the one the PA leadership has ruled out: dissolving the authority and forcing Israel to bear the full legal responsibilities, costs and consequences of its occupation of millions of Palestinians and their land.

Watch the video above.

EU caves in to Israel, again

Meanwhile the European Union appears to have completely backed off any threat to hold Israel accountable over its annexation plans.

On Monday, the 27-nation bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued a statement welcoming the swearing in of Israel’s new unity government.

Borrell noted that the EU looked forward to working with Israel to “develop our relationship in all areas, in particular in matters such as COVID-19, education, research and development and any other area of mutual interest.”

But he also expressed the bloc’s “grave concern” over the Israeli government’s plan to annex large parts of the West Bank.

“We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to international law,” Borrell added.

This toothless, boilerplate language of “urging” and “concern” is identical to countless statements issued by the EU over the decades objecting to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, while rewarding Israel with billions of euros in trade, aid and weapons.

Completely absent from the EU’s latest statement is any mention of consequences.

Recall that back in February, Borrell had warned Israel that “steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.”

However, Israel mobilized a major diplomatic campaign to undermine Borrell and drive a wedge between EU states – all of which are very pro-Israel, but by slightly varying degrees.

Austria and Hungary reportedly blocked a more forceful EU statement warning Israel against annexation.

The foreign minister of France, whose government staunchly supports Israel, issued its own statement on Wednesday using the stronger language abandoned by the EU.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that annexation of the West Bank “could not be without consequences for relations between the EU and Israel.”

Germany, meanwhile, affirmed its full agreement with the completely toothless statement issued by Borrell:

In theory, a unified EU foreign policy is supposed to strengthen the clout of the bloc on the world stage. In reality, the combined position tends towards the lowest common denominator and the status quo.

That is always to the advantage of Israel.

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Jordan has raised its voice against annexation. Should it go ahead, serious consequences in the region are possible. The essence, however, is the US is in favour and the EU exhibits all the anger of a sheep. Yet let's not forget what we mean by the US and the EU: their leaders. Has anyone polled the people of Britain, Ireland, France Spain, Italy over Israel/Palestine? If the people of the EU were asked if they favour a democratic Palestine, one person one vote and the rule of law, does anyone know what the answer would be? If the voters in the US were asked if they are willing to go on pouring dollars into Israel indefinitely what would their answer be? We never see this polling because, like everything else, polling is skewed. Most people in Europe have little idea what is going on in Israel/Palestine, not because they are stupid, but because the media and the Establishment work day and night to keep them ignorant. Most people in the US couldn't find Gaza on a map, for the same reason. This is a depressing picture, but it is their weakness and our strength. The people almost certainly do not support the official line in the US or the EU. They just don't know what it is. It's our job to tell them. Everyone one of us must convey the truth to those around us in every way we can: conversations, rallies, street stall, leaflets, social media. There are hundreds of thousands of us at least and the message is easy: do you believe in democracy? Do you think Israel/Palestine should be a democracy? It's a fair bet large majorities in both the US and the EU would say yes. The PA is a front. It is a sleight of hand by which Israel claims to have given some autonomy to the Palestinians. It's easy to prove that. We have the truth on our side, they are mendacious, prevaricating, manipulative..You can fool some of the people all the time...Our ideas are already in everyone's head, we have to work hard to defeat what stops people knowing it. We can do it.

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