Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Israeli and Palestinian security officials gave mixed signals Wednesday regarding the seriousness of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration that the PA will end all cooperation with Israel.

On Tuesday, Abbas vowed to withdraw from all agreements with Israel and end all cooperation – including security cooperation.

"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 and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones," Abbas declared at an emergency meeting in Ramallah, according to the Wafa news agency.

"The Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine, with all its consequences and repercussions based on international law and international humanitarian law,” he continued.

Abbas said the move was triggered by Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty over all Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, in keeping with the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.

But the 84-year-old PA leader has made similar threats in the past, and senior Israeli security officials are doubtful Abbas will actually terminate security cooperation with the Jewish state, noting that much of the cooperation revolves around combating Abbas’ chief rival within the PA – Hamas.

“The chances are small that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas’ pseudonym] will burn this bridge by cutting off ties with Israel, since the agreements serve both sides,” a security official told Walla! News Wednesday morning.

“If Abu Mazen decides tomorrow to stop his efforts against Hamas and stop the security cooperation [with Israel], he’ll be vulnerable to a determined effort by the group, his sworn enemy.”

Senior Palestinian Authority officials, however, told The New York Times early Wednesday morning that this time, Abbas is serious.

“This decision is for immediate implementation,” said PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yousef. “It is not to be studied or discussed in committees.”

Adnan Damiri, the spokesman for the PA police force, said that PA security officials who attended the meeting with Abbas Tuesday evening understood that they are to cut all security cooperation with both Israel and the CIA.

Mahmoud al-Habbash, a senior adviser to Abbas, said that the “Palestinian leadership has always left the decision of cutting all ties with Israel and the U.S. up to the president.”

“He has now made that decision, and there’s no room for maneuvering.”

But some senior Palestine Liberation Organization members disputed these claims, telling Israel Hayom Wednesday morning that Abbas’ comments Tuesday were empty declarations, and would not lead to a fundamental change in the PA’s relationship with Israel or the US.

“Abbas is trying to get [Israeli Defense Minister Benny] Gantz to the negotiating table,” a senior official told Israel Hayom. “There is no real intention here to break up the Palestinian Authority and hand things back to Israeli control. That’s not feasible. Even we don’t fully grasp what the declaration will mean practically speaking.”