Abbas threatens to cut ties with Israel if Hamas truce goes through

Dismayed by the prospect of Hamas reaching a separate accord with Israel, the PA president issued threats that were reported in the Arab media.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to cut off all relations with Israel, including security cooperation, if it goes ahead with the cease-fire agreement that is supposedly in the works with Hamas, according to an Al-Hayyat report Friday.

Egypt has been the main mediator between Israel and Hamas, facilitating indirect talks between the two sides that have led to reports of understandings being reached, though neither party has signed onto anything as yet. Although there has been a significant reduction of violence emanating from Gaza in recent weeks, balloon-arson attacks have only slowed from a barrage to a thin stream that still threatens Israeli farmland and communities.

In addition, the Erez crossing from Gaza was the scene of rioting and vandalism just this past Tuesday, leading Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to order the pedestrian crossing to be closed for a week in retaliation, except for humanitarian cases.

The London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayyat quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Hamas was more interested in making a truce deal with Israel to attain calm in Gaza rather than working to implement the reconciliation agreement that it signed with the PA months ago.

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It was “the least evil” option, they said, considering the “intransigence of Fatah” in insisting on conditions for reconciliation that the Hamas rulers find unacceptable – such as handing over their weapons to a PA government that would take over administration of the coastal enclave.

The report said that Abbas’ threat seems to have worked with Egypt, which “decided to postpone the option of ‘calm first,’ and replace it with … ‘reconciliation first,’” and will invite delegations of both sides to Cairo to once again discuss the reunification of the Palestinian factions.

It may be hard for Israel’s government to take this threat seriously, however, as Abbas has made it several times in the past without carrying through on it. The most recent threat was issued in May, when the PA reportedly warned that it would cut security ties if Israel lifted its blockade on Gaza, since Abbas wants to keep up the pressure on Hamas to hand over control of the Strip to him.

At other times, Abbas has made the threat as a way to pressure Israel, as he did in 2015 to try to force Prime Minister Netanyahu into releasing tax revenue that was being withheld after the PA joined the International Criminal Court. He did it again in 2014 when trying to influence the UN Security Council to pass a draft resolution setting a 12-month deadline to complete a peace agreement with Israel.

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Notwithstanding Abbas’ threats, it is widely believed that without the PA’s ongoing intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, it would fall and Hamas would take over all of Areas A and B in Judea and Samaria, a scenario that the PA president fears perhaps more than Israel does.