Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Mahmoud Abbas' Dilemma: A Look into the Lose-Lose Nature of PA-Israel Security Cooperation"

Tuesday 07/February/2023 - 05:13 PM
The Reference
Ahmed Seif Eldin

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, has recently suspended security coordination with Israel as a response to the assault on the Jenin refugee camp that killed at least ten people. Despite the suspension being a necessary move due to the growing Palestinian death toll, it puts Abbas in a difficult position. PA-Israel security cooperation has been a central pillar of the Oslo peace process and is vital to the survival of the PA, but it is highly unpopular among Palestinians who view it as collaboration with the occupation.

The primary role of PA-Israel security cooperation is to prevent attacks on Israelis, but there are no provisions or mechanisms in place to protect Palestinians from Israeli incursions, shootings, and other forms of violence. This lack of protection for Palestinians erodes Abbas' domestic legitimacy, but cutting security ties with Israel permanently would put the PA's existence at risk due to possible sanctions and punitive measures by Israel and the United States.

Abbas is trying to have it both ways by privately assuring U.S. officials that intelligence-sharing and efforts to thwart attacks on Israelis will continue while full coordination will resume once calm is restored. However, this lose-lose nature of PA-Israel security cooperation highlights the precarious position of Abbas' leadership and the PA.

The PA, once seen as the embryo of a future Palestinian state, is now in a state of slow-motion collapse due to years of political and institutional stagnation, corruption, and authoritarianism. This, along with a sharp drop in international donor aid and the loss of tax transfers, has put the PA on the brink of financial bankruptcy. As the PA continues to deteriorate, new militant groups are seeking to fill the vacuum, further diminishing the PA's physical presence and control.

In conclusion, the lack of provisions and mechanisms to protect Palestinians and the growing disaffection towards the PA both domestically and internationally have put Abbas and the PA in a difficult position. The suspension of security cooperation with Israel highlights the need for a solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict and provides protection for Palestinians living under military occupation.