Abbas Says Agreements with Israel, US Null and Void
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declared all past agreements with Israel and the United States null and void. The primary reason cited is Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex parts of the West Bank in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments… including the security ones,” Abbas was quoted by media as saying during a meeting with PA leaders in Ramallah. He added that the “Israel occupation authority” would have to assume full responsibility over the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank, “with all its consequences and repercussions based on international law.” The PA chief specifically highlighted a stipulation in the coalition deal between Netanyahu and Blue and White party head Benny Gantz that allows the former to press ahead with applying Israeli sovereignty over about 30% of the West Bank starting as early as July 1. He claimed that by pursuing such a move, Israel had “annulled” the 1993 Oslo Accords, which established the PA and jump-started direct peace negotiations. Abbas also slammed President Trump’s recognition in December 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as his decision to cut hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for projects in the PA while shuttering the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington. “We hold the American administration fully responsible for the oppression befalling the Palestinian people and we consider it a primary partner with the Israeli occupation government in all its aggressive and unfair measures,” Abbas said. In 2008, then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas an independent Palestinian state on about 95% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital. Eight years earlier, Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, turned down a similar offer from then-Israeli premier Ehud Barak and former US president Bill Clinton. Arafat then launched the Second Intifada, a terror war defined by suicide bombings in Israeli public spaces that killed and maimed thousands of people. Abbas has on numerous occasions threatened to rip up all past accords with the Jewish state, thus some observers remain skeptical that his latest assertions will have tangible effects.