Palestinian PM: PA Will Prevent Chaos After Ending Security Coordination With Israel

Mohammed Shtayyeh says decision to withdraw from agreements with Israel means Palestinian patients will no longer be treated in Israeli hospitals

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks before the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, May 11, 2020.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks before the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, May 11, 2020.Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS
Jack Khoury

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addressed the Palestinian Authority's decision to end security coordination with Israel in light of Israel's intent to annex parts of the West Bank. In a press conference in Ramallah on Monday, Shtayyeh said that the PA is committed to maintaining order and applying its sovereignty in the West Bank while defending the civil rights of Palestinians.

"This is an important battle," said Shtayyeh, "It's the battle over Palestinian national existence in this territory and the prevention of Israel's annexation of Palestinian land for the sake of settlement expansion." Shtayyeh added that the PA is absolved of all signed agreements because Israel has repeatedly violated their terms. 

The move is centered around the Palestinian Authority cooperation with Israel on certain security matters, but ending these agreements also has many civil complications. One such issue is the PA's coordination with Israel to allow Palestinians to seek medical care in Israeli hospitals. Shtayyeh said that Palestinian patients will therein be treated in the Palestinian territories, and that the PA is working to bolster the healthcare infrastructure in its territory. A Palestinian official told Haaretz that in severe cases, treatment for Gazan patients will be coordinated with Egypt or the United Nations.

Shtayyeh told reporters that the PA will not allow the civil rights of Palestinians to be trampled as a result, and it will demand these rights as stipulated in international law.

Sources in Fatah told Haaretz that the true test of withdrawal from agreements will be the future of the Israeli army's routine operations in territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority. "One of the characteristics of the security coordination is the entrance of Israeli forces into Palestinian villages and cities without clashing with Palestinian forces. This week we'll see how much of this has really ended."

A Fatah activist from Bethlehem told Haaretz that the Palestinians' decision will be hard to implement and will cost the PA in its capacity to operate. "Israel is focused on the security coordination, but every Palestinian move, whether civil or security-related, requires coordination with Israel, and without such coordination [the PA] will be paralyzed."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that the PA will end all agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the United States, including security agreements. The announcement was met with initial skepticism, however, sources at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed to Haaretz that a message was indeed sent to Israel on halting security coordination, which also involves the sharing of intelligence between the PA and the Israeli military. 

Also last week, Palestinian security forces withdrew from Area B of the West Bank, after being posted there in coordination with Israel in order to enforce coronavirus restrictions among the territory’s Palestinian population.