Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he was cutting all ties, including security coordination, with both Israel and the US on Saturday, in a lengthy speech delivered at an Arab League meeting in Egypt’s capital denouncing the new White House plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We’ve informed the Israeli side…that there will be no relations at all with them and the United States, including security ties,” Abbas declared.
The PA leader said he’d stated as much in letters sent to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and CIA Director Gina Haspel. The PA currently cooperates with Israeli security services and US intelligence agencies against terrorism.
Abbas has threatened to cut security ties in the past on several occasions though he has not followed through with action on the ground.
The Arab League in a statement rejected the Trump proposal, calling it “unfair” to Palestinians. The pan-Arab bloc said in a statement that the plan “does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”
Arab leaders also vowed “not to … cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan.”
The US plan would potentially grant the Palestinians a state with restricted sovereignty in Gaza and in parts of the West Bank, while allowing Israel to annex all its settlements and keep nearly all of East Jerusalem.
The summit of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo was requested by the Palestinians, who responded angrily to the American proposal.
Abbas said that he told Israel and the US that “there will be no relations with them, including the security ties” following the deal that Palestinians say heavily favors Israel.
Israel will have to “bear responsibility as an occupying power,” Abbas said.
He said US President Donald Trump’s peace plan was in “violation of the (autonomy) accords” launched in Oslo in 1993 by Israel and the Palestinians. The plan, he said, left Palestinians with a “Swiss cheese” state.
There was no immediate comment from US or Israeli officials.
The PA leader said that he’d refused to take Trump’s phone calls and messages “because I know that he would use that to say he consulted us.”
“I will never accept this solution,” Abbas said. “I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Jerusalem.”
He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending Israel’s control of the West Bank and establishing a state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Abbas insisted Palestinians were not rejectionists and were not simply refusing without any counter offer. “We’re not nihilists,” he said.
The Palestinian leader said he was willing to present an alternative proposal before the UN Security Council.
Abbas received long applause from the Arab foreign ministers in attendance after his speech.
Abbas said that the Palestinians wouldn’t accept the US as a sole mediator in any negotiations with Israel. He said they would go to the United Nations Security Council and other world and regional organizations to “explain our position.”
He accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has backed Trump’s initiative, of being an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want peace and doesn’t believe in peace,” he said.
Abbas, protesting that the plan requires him to recognize a Jewish state, derided the very notion, claiming many immigrants to Israel weren’t Jewish at all.
“There are 1.5 to 2 million Russians in Israel today, some of whom are Christians and some of whom are Jews. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the gates opened. To prove that they were Jewish, they would go to some rabbi, pay him 100 rubles, get a certificate that they were Jewish, and go to Israel.”
He added: “Even the Falash Mura from Ethiopia, believe me, the percentage of Jews among them is tiny.”
The Arab League’s head, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, said the proposal revealed a “sharp turn” in the long-standing US foreign policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This turn does not help achieve peace and a just solution,” he declared.
Aboul-Gheit said that the Palestinians reject the proposal. He called for the two sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to negotiate to reach a “satisfactory solution for both of them.”
Trump unveiled the long-awaited proposal Tuesday in Washington. It would allow Israel to annex all its West Bank settlements — which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as illegal — as well as the Jordan Valley, which in total account for roughly 30% of the West Bank.
In return, the Palestinians would be granted demilitarized statehood in the Gaza Strip, scattered chunks of the West Bank and some neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem, all linked together by a new network of roads, bridges and tunnels. Israel would control the state’s borders and airspace and maintain overall security authority. Critics of the plan say this would rob Palestinian statehood of any meaning.
The plan would abolish the so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian demand, and one that Israel has always rejected as an attempt to wipe out the Jewish state by weight of numbers. The entire agreement would be contingent on Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other terror groups disarming, something they have always adamantly rejected.
Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman attended the Tuesday unveiling in Washington, in a tacit sign of support for the US initiative.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Arab states that are close US allies, said they appreciated Trump’s efforts and called for renewed negotiations without commenting on the plan’s content.
Egypt urged Israelis and Palestinians to “carefully study” the plan. It said it favors a solution that restores all the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinian people through establishing an “independent and sovereign state on the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The Egyptian statement did not mention the long-held Arab demand for East Jerusalem as a capital to the future Palestinian state, as Cairo usually has in its statements related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Jordan, meanwhile, warned against any Israeli “annexation of Palestinian lands” and reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, which would include all the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel.
According to an Axios report Friday, Abbas has struggled to enlist Arab support against the US plan.
Citing Arab officials, the news site said the Palestinians, along with Lebanon and Qatar, are pushing for a condemnation of the Trump proposal, while Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia want a more balanced proposal that calls to resume peace negotiations and does not criticize the US president.
The White House had asked a number of Arab countries to ensure the Arab League did not issue a resolution against the plan, the report quoted US officials saying.
On Thursday, a senior PA official spoke of Ramallah’s disappointment in Arab nations’ muted and sometimes-supportive response to the US peace proposal, saying the PA had been hoping “for much better.”
Hussein al-Sheikh, PA Civil Affairs Minister, member of the Fatah Central Committee and a close confidant of Abbas, said there was concern that Arab nations, who the PA had hoped would back their position, may become a “dagger in Palestinian people’s side.”
“In every meeting with our Arab brothers, we did not demand that the Arabs fight America or Israel on our behalf,” Sheikh told Al Jazeera. “We asked them for the minimum position…We asked them to tell the Americans: ‘What the Palestinians accept, we accept. And what the Palestinians reject, we reject.’”
Many Western countries and international bodies said they needed time to assess the plan, while reiterating their support for the longtime international consensus favoring a two-state solution to the conflict on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
Regionally, Arab states in the Gulf have moved closer to the Jewish state in recent years amid shared hostility to Iran.