Despite Abbas’ claims to the contrary, the Palestinian Authority continues to abide by key elements of the Oslo Accords that include economic and security cooperation with Israel.
Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas reportedly told left-wing Meretz party chief Zehava Galon over the weekend that “the Oslo Accords are dead.”
According to Galon, Abbas’ comment came during a phone call to express condolences on the death of the Meretz leader’s father. She said that Abbas told her that US President Donald Trump had, in several past conversations, “promised a good deal to [resolve] the conflict, and then came this unfortunate surprise” recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, which we cannot accept.”
In the weeks following the Trump announcement, the Palestinians declared a freezing of ties with Washington and said they would not accept the Trump administration as a peace broker. The the US has reacted by threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars it provides in aid to the PA. The Europeans looked for a compromise, but according to Galon, “Abbas lost any trust it will work.”
‘Just a lot of talk’
Palestinian Affairs expert Pinchas Inbari told World Israel News (WIN), “The issue of how to relate to Israel while peace talks are frozen has been a major discussion in Ramallah. Abbas aide and former PA Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa is a strong advocate of continuing relations with Israel, and his argument is influential.”
“According to Mustafa’s logic,” Inbari explains, “economic relations with Israel cannot be halted unless and until there is a real alternative. Abbas himself has publicly supported security cooperation, and it is continuing. If US stops financial aid, it could affect security cooperation because some of the funds are used to pay salaries of Palestinian security forces. People use slogans about stopping cooperation, but for now it’s just a lot of talk. “
‘Palestinians will pick and choose’
Prof. Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University told WIN, “Abbas said ‘Oslo is dead,’ and he got the PLO Central Committee to back his words with an official declaration. But what he means is that the Palestinians are no longer committed to the overall Oslo agreement, and they will pick and choose what they adhere to. They may stop security cooperation, but I doubt it. The US will cut some financial support and then we will see the full extent of the Palestinian reaction.
“Abbas’ options are limited,” he continued. “He cannot, for example, decide to print currency to use instead of the shekel, and he cannot collect customs at the border crossings. Aside from statements, there is little ‘on-the-ground’ action he can take. Abbas is opposed to armed intifada and he will not allow Hamas to carry out armed attacks. The real test case will be whether the PA will allow non-violent protests.”
This coming weekend could be that test case for Abbas. Fatah has declared a “day of fury” in the Judea and Samaria and is getting official backing. Direct PA involvement in violent anti-Israel protests would be a direct violation of the Oslo accords.