Palestinians in the West Bank have ceased all security cooperation with both the United States and Israel, while Palestinian security forces have reportedly withdrawn from most of the West Bank, paving the way for a new spike in violence.
The Palestinian Authority has stopped sharing intelligence with the CIA, a senior Palestinian official has confirmed.
“It has been 48 hours since the American Intelligence Service have been notified that the agreement with them is no longer in force,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, told reporters on Thursday.
“Security cooperation with the US no more. Security cooperation with Israel no more.”
The announcement came two days after the Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, declared an end to security cooperation with both nations, citing the imminent threat of West Bank ‘annexation’.
“As far as the direct co-operation between the American intelligence agencies and the Palestinian intelligence agencies, I think it stopped as of the end of the president’s speech,” Erekat said.
Although the PA started boycotting Trump-led mediation efforts in 2017, intelligence cooperation continued to fend off violence in the West Bank. The PA’s security services, the Preventive Security Organisation and the General Intelligence Service, have never disclosed the details of their cooperation with the CIA, but it is understood to have been particularly focused on Hamas.
The rival Palestinian group, which controls the Gaza Strip, is designated as a terror organisation in both Israel and the US. It was reported in 2009 that Palestinian security forces were working with the CIA to detain Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority announced the suspension of all ties with the US and Israel this February after rejecting Donald Trump’s peace plan, that recognised Israeli settlements in the West Bank and hence undermined the idea of a contiguous Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, Haaretz and Reuters reported that Palestinian security forces began pulling back on Thursday from the West Bank’s Areas B and C to Area A. Under the 1990s’ Oslo accords, Area A is administered exclusively by the Palestinian Authority, Area B is under joint Israeli-Palestinian military and Palestinian civil control, and Area C is fully administered by Israel. The withdrawal of Palestinian forces is likely to cause a new spike in violence in those territories.
Israel is expected to take over a third of the West Bank area, including about half of Area C, which is home to 180,000 Palestinians. The United States has approved the move, which has been strongly condemned by Palestinians, who seek an independent state in all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.
As part of a coalition deal with Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can bring up an annexation proposal to the new government as early as 1 July.