Saeb Erekat
Saeb ErekatMiriam Alster/Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on Sunday said that the PA will not agree to maintain the status quo and threatened that the PA will dismantle itself and “hand the keys” back to Israel.

Speaking to Army Radio, Erekat referred to Israel’s decision to withhold the tax money it collects on behalf of the PA, which came in response to the PA’s request to join the International Criminal Court, and called it “collective punishment” and a “war crime”.

“This is our money, Palestinian money that the Israeli government collects in exchange for 3%,” he said. “This is a collective punishment that means that we will not be able to run our hospitals, our schools, people will not be able to get salaries. They’re suffocating 4.5 million people. This is piracy and this is a real war crime.”

Erekat threatened that the PA leadership will hold a meeting in Ramallah and then call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “to resume his responsibilities as the occupying power.”

“We are telling him: Status quo no more,” declared Erekat. “Either this Authority and partnership will take us from occupation to independence through peaceful means, or Israel - the occupying power - will resume its full responsibilities.”

“Next week or next month,” he threatened, “there will not be a Palestinian Authority. Israel will find itself responsible from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean, and you will find our kids running after your kids in refugee camps, as you did in 1992. That’s what it means.”

The comments by Erekat are not the first time that PA leaders have threatened to cut ties with Israel and dismantle the entity.

In October, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cut ties with Israel if his unilateral move at the United Nations fails, though at that time he said he would not disband the PA.

"If all efforts fail, we will end relations with Israel and I will tell Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, ‘Come and take over’. However, I will not dismantle the Palestinian Authority and I will submit a request to join all the organizations belonging to the UN," he declared.

Previously, however, Abbas hinted at plans to dismantle the PA and thus enact a serious blow to Israel through international legislation.

Dismantling the PA would transfer all responsibility for the Palestinian Arabs to Israel, dissolving the Oslo Accords. But it would also leave Israel vulnerable to litigation over the "settlements" in international courts - and change Israel's demographics to tip the religious and ethnic majority.