Palestinian leadership discuss limiting cooperation with Israel


The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee met yesterday to discuss limiting ties with Israel, including security coordination in the West Bank.

Cooperation between the two security networks has played a significant role in limiting the impact of the current wave of terror, which has killed at least 31 Israelis since October. According to Haaretz, Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen told Israel’s cabinet yesterday that such cooperation is ongoing and that Palestinian security forces routinely act on Israeli intelligence.

However, the PLO executive committee was set to meet yesterday to reconsider relations with Israel, specifically an end to high-level bilateral meetings and a reduction in security cooperation. Prior to the meeting, the central committee of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction recommended to the PLO executive committee that security ties should be limited.

One of the key issues for the Palestinian leadership is what they regard as excessive Israeli incursions into Area A of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords is designated for exclusive Palestinian security control. Israel maintains that such operations have been necessary to prevent terror attacks and media reports say that arrests in Area A have significantly decreased according to Israeli military officials. Haaretz says that Shin Bet chief Cohen reported that Palestinian security forces are making three times as many arrests in the West Bank as they were three months ago.

In March, Israel offered to reduce activity in Area A in a plan approved by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Under the initiative, the IDF would be restricted to operations to prevent a “ticking bomb” in Area A and there would also be a significant reduction in IDF activity in Jericho and Ramallah, as a pilot programme, which could be extended if successful. However, the PA is said to have rejected the proposal as they demanded a full timetable for the cessation of IDF activities throughout Palestinian areas of the West Bank.