WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the Trump administration hopes to see a continuation of the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, despite the threat issued by Palestinian President Abbas to freeze all agreements in light of Israel's intent to annex parts of the West Bank.
Pompeo was asked about Abbas’ comments during a Wednesday morning appearance before reporters in Washington and replied that he “regrets” Abbas’ comments. Pompeo visited Israel last week and discussed annexation, among other issues, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
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Over the past three years, the Trump administration has cut all forms of U.S. assistance to the Palestinians except for one: Funding for the PA security forces. Israel encouraged the administration behind the scenes to continue supporting the Palestinian forces, as they play a central role in coordination with the IDF and Israel’s security agencies and countering violent activities against Israel.
In Pompeo’s previous role as CIA Director he worked with the PA’s intelligence chief, Majd Faraj, even when political tensions over Trump’s pro-settlements policy led the PA to officially boycott the administration. Abbas made it clear that the CIA ties with the PA forces would be exempted from that boycott when he took steps toward freezing interaction with the U.S.
In January of this year, after Trump and Netanyahu jointly unveiled the president’s Middle East plan, the current CIA Director, Gina Haspel, arrived to Ramallah in order to ask the PA to continue the security coordination despite the political tensions surrounding the plan.
On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority will end all agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the United States, including security agreements, but Palestinian sources told Haaretz that coordination with Israel continues for the time being.