Is this the End for the Palestinian Authority?

PLO officials have created shockwaves by suggesting that the Palestinian Authority could be radically transformed or even disbanded.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (C) speaks during an emergency meeting with his leadership in Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (C) speaks during an emergency meeting with his leadership in Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority and ending security cooperation with Israel. The PLO’s Central Council is meeting in Ramallah today (Wednesday) and tomorrow to discuss a number of issues currently affecting the Palestinians, including the PA’s ongoing financial crisis.

PLO officials have created shock by suggesting that the Palestinian Authority (PA), which serves as the Palestinian government by agreement of Israel and the PLO, could be radically transformed or even put to an end. “The PA cannot last in its current form — that is, without any real sovereignty — because on the ground, Israel keeps dividing up the land and [building] settlements,” said Mohammad Shtayyeh, a leading member of Fatah, the ruling party in the PA.

Anonymous sources have also told reporters that the PLO is considering ending security ties with Israel, a threat which has been often made but never carried out.

If the PLO were to take either of those measures, some analysts say, it would be a blow to Israel, which has long relied on the PA to maintain total control over the populous, urban Area A of the West Bank and to assist in maintaining control over Area B. It might also require Israel to become more involved in Gaza, something that it has been reluctant to do since leaving it in 2005.

Ahead of the meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned PA President Mahmoud Abbas to avoid taking “harsh” measures before the Israeli elections on March 17.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and the new unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (R) during the swearing in ceremony of the government at the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah. (Issam RImawi/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (R) during the swearing in ceremony of the government in Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)

The PLO Central Council is a 124-member body dominated by Fatah but also constituting leaders from all other major Palestinian parties, excluding Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It is the only body authorized to take such extreme steps as dissolving the PA, which serves as the governmental body of the PLO.

The Palestinians have taken an increasing number of unilateral steps in their mission towards statehood in an attempt to circumvent the peace process with Israel. They were granted observer status in the UN in 2012 and are schedule to accede to the International Criminal Court on April 1, 2015. In response to this latter step, Israel has frozen the repatriation of Palestinian tax revenues, which has only deepened the financial crisis currently faced by the PA, including an inability to pay its employees.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News staff