Palestinian Authority cuts ties with Israel and U.S.

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security, after rejecting a Middle East peace plan presented by U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.

Abbas was in Cairo to address the Arab League, which backed the Palestinians in their opposition to Trump's plan.

The blueprint, endorsed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state that excludes Jewish settlements built in occupied territory and is under near-total Israeli security control.

"We've informed the Israeli side ... that there will be no relations at all with them and the United States including security ties," Abbas told the one-day emergency meeting, called to discuss Trump's plan.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on his remarks.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority's security forces have long cooperated in policing areas of the occupied West Bank that are under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA, which continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting the Trump administration's peace efforts in 2017.

Abbas also said he had refused to discuss the plan by with Trump by phone, or to receive even a copy of it to study it:

"Trump asked that I speak to him by phone but I said 'no', and that he wants to send me a letter ... but I refused it."

Abbas said he did not want Trump to be able to say that he, Abbas, had been consulted.

He reiterated his "complete" rejection of the Trump plan, presented on Tuesday.

PALESTINIAN RIGHTS

The blueprint also proposes U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank land and of Jerusalem as Israel's indivisible capital.

The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo said the plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace, and that the League would not cooperate with the United States in implementing it.

The ministers affirmed Palestinian rights to create a future state based on the land captured and occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, with East Jerusalem as capital, the final communique said.

Foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, among others, said there could be no peace without recognizing Palestinian rights and a comprehensive solution.

After Trump unveiled his plan, some Arab powers had appeared, despite historic support for the Palestinians, to prioritize close ties with the United States and a shared hostility toward Iran over traditional Arab alliances.

Three Gulf Arab states - Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - attended the White House gathering where Trump announced his plan alongside Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would ask his cabinet this week to approve the application of Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Such a move could be a first step toward formal annexation of the settlements and the Jordan Valley - territory Israel has kept under military occupation since its capture in 1967.

Most countries consider Israeli settlements on land captured in war to be a violation of international law. Trump has changed U.S. policy to withdraw such objections.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy, Ulf Laessing, Rami Ayyub, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry and Kevin Liffey)

02/01/2020 15:25

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