Will Palestinian security forces open fire on Israeli soldiers who raid Palestinian cities? Is the PA still going to hand over the names of wanted Palestinians? Or is it all a bluff?
By Menachem Klein
At a time when there is no peace process and Israel continues building settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel is gnawing away at public support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The current crisis over Al-Aqsa Mosque has brought things to a boiling point, such that Abbas simply cannot allow himself to continue the security coordination — or at least had to announce that he is suspending it it.
Let us assume for a moment that Abbas’s announcement was cynical, and was driven by his lack of support among the Palestinian public, and that in reality the security coordination is continuing unabated. That would align with Abbas’s modus operandi of doing everything he can to prevent the type anarchy that reigned during the Second Intifada, for which Palestinian society paid a heavy price.
If it was indeed insincere, such a proclamation by Abbas could be dangerous: he risks being seen as a fraud and untrustworthy. For Abbas, this is one of the main things that differentiates him from his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. In the eyes of his supporters in the PA and outside it, as well as among the Israeli security establishment and the West, Abbas is seen as an honest figure. Arafat, on the other hand, was viewed as manipulative. A complete loss of trust in Abbas could also carry a high price for Palestinian society. He could lose the support of a third of the Palestinian public, which according to recent polls, still supports him.
Thus Abbas’ announcement seems sincere. However, it is yet unclear how it will be implemented. Are Palestinian security forces going to open fire on Israeli soldiers who enter those Palestinian cities under full PA control? Will the Palestinian security apparatus continue — as it does today — handing over names of wanted Palestinians to Israel, including those whom the PA is afraid of arresting? How can Abbas ensure that Hamas and his arch-rival Mohammad Dahlan — who recently formed an alliance with the Islamist movement in Gaza — don’t exploit this moment to undermine his regime. He would seem particularly vulnerable at a moment like this, when he has neither security...Read More