'Abbas has no answer to Israel applying sovereignty'

Arab affairs commentator Yoni Ben Menachem explains that the PA threats against Israel are not serious.

Nitsan Keidar ,

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaks at United Nations in New York
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaks at United Nations in New York

The Palestinian Authority continues to threaten Israel and is also trying to mobilize Jordan to prevent Israel from applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a commentator on Arab affairs and a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Sunday about the cooperation between Jordan and the PA.

"The Jordanian plan is made up of two parts and is coordinated with the Palestinian Authority. The first phase is before annexation and the second comes after it. The first phase is international - they applied to the EU, Latin America, and the UN to intervene - and also took a practical step when the PA announced that it was renouncing all agreements with Israel and the US, while [PA chairman Mahmoud] Abbas took a small step in announcing the end of the security coordination,” he said.

"In the second stage, after annexation, they are planning further steps. According to reports, the Jordanians will return their ambassador to Israel and freeze the peace agreement with it, with the Palestinians planning to unilaterally declare a state. It should be noted that such a Palestinian declaration has occurred in the past in Algeria by Yasser Arafat and that these are merely declaratory acts,” added Ben Menachem.

At the same time, according to Ben Menachem, both Jordan and Ramallah understand that these are futile attempts. "The Jordanians and Palestinians understand that they will not be able to stop the move because there is internal consensus for it within Israel, even if Blue and White is sounding a different voice. There is also US support and the move is coordinated between Israel and the US. Jordan is very much dependent on US aid and it cannot go against President Trump. The Palestinian Authority, even though it has severed relations with the Trump administration, understands that the US administration is the main force which stands behind Israel and gives it backing in the international arena."

Ben Menachem expressed doubts about the success of the steps to end the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and noted examples from recent days. "Abbas cannot leave the Muqata in Ramallah because he needs Israel's approval and so do other senior officials in the Palestinian Authority. Yesterday, the Palestinians announced that Abbas coordinated with Jordan to pass through the Allenby Bridge, but he is still dependent on Israel, because he has to pass through Israeli-controlled territory in order to get from Ramallah to Allenby Bridge."

"They only stand to lose from the cancellation of the security coordination. Also, any renunciation of the agreements with Israel is a loss for them. Israel controls all aspects of Palestinian life in Judea and Samaria and cutting it off is a very complicated matter."

Asked if Israel should prepare for a declaration by Abbas that he is dismantling the PA, Ben Menachem replied, "Abbas, like any other Arab ruler in the Middle East, is in no hurry to relinquish his chair. The Palestinian Authority was established as a result of the Oslo Accords, and if he cancels the agreements – the PA is automatically cancelled – and he is not doing it. He also has a personal motive. He doesn’t want to give up the economic empire he set up for his two sons and so he stays on his seat and thinks about declaring a state without it having any meaning in the field."

In addition to all of this, Ben Menachem explained, the Palestinian street does not really support Abbas’ leadership. "The Palestinian street does not believe any word coming from the leadership and believes that the rulers want to shout and do nothing and continue to enjoy the pleasures of being in power. The Palestinians also remember that the leadership failed to stop the US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the US declaration on the legality of the settlements. After all, it's not about Israel conquering anything, it's about places it controls anyway. No one on the street believes the PA will be able to stop it."