The Palestinian Authority's Civil Affairs Minister announced on Tuesday the resumption of security cooperation with Israel. Hussein Al-Sheikh claimed that this was a "great victory" and "achievement" for the PA. He even went on television and thanked the Palestinian people for this "victory". He is deluded.
On 15 November, 1988, the late Yasser Arafat declared Palestine's "independence". In memory of this, Al-Sheikh tweeted: "The path to independence is paved with patience, perseverance and steadfastness, and our complete and real independence will be on the day the occupation has ended and the flag of Palestine is raised over the mosques and churches of Jerusalem. Greetings to our resilient people."
Arafat's declaration was nothing more than an attempt to suppress the first Palestinian intifada, the uprising which happened after Israel had thought Palestinian nationalism was "killed" by the PLO's surrender to the peace path with Israel. Quite what Al-Sheikh's motive was, only he knows, but just three days after his tweet he announced the resumption of security cooperation with the occupying power.
He explained this on Twitter: "In light of the calls made by President Abbas regarding Israel's commitment to the bilateral signed agreements, and based on the official written and oral messages we received, confirming Israel's commitment to them. Accordingly, the relationship with Israel will return to how it was."
According to Israeli officials, this followed weeks of engagement with Palestinian officials regarding the relationship. "We have been working on this for several weeks now," they were reported as saying by Ynet News. "Defence Minister Benny Gantz sent very clear messages to the Palestinians during his meetings with EU ambassadors that he wants the coordination to resume."
They did not mention the alleged commitments made by Israel to the PA regarding "all" the previous agreements. However, the Israeli officials revealed that "there were also covert ties" between the head of the Israeli Defence Ministry's civil administration and "his Palestinian counterparts".
Did Hussein Al-Sheikh forget what he had said just three days before this announcement? Did he know nothing about the weeks of meetings and talks between the PA officials and Israel? Well, yes, he knew about it. His announcement was arranged between the US, Israel, Egypt and the PA.
A Palestinian Authority source told me on condition that he would remain anonymous that US President-elect Joe Biden's campaign officials had asked the PA to resume security cooperation as a "goodwill gesture" towards Israel and the resumption of the peace process. This could be why Abbas has high hopes of the incoming Biden administration.
It could also explain what PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki meant when he said during a visit to Germany, "Now with the new administration in Washington, we see a change, we see a hope, and we want not to be victims of the past… The new administration believes in the two-state solution…. the new administration believes that the Deal of the Century should be off the table… They talk about reversing most, if not all, these actions. And this is really for us an indication that the new administration is different. And that's why we're ready to engage." Given that both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are both avowed Zionists, Al-Maliki is clutching at straws.
All the Palestinian factions except one, even those within the PLO, have condemned the PA's resumption of security cooperation. They describe it as a "stab in the back" for the extensive efforts that have been exerted recently to reach national unity and partnership.
"The resumption of security cooperation reflects the PA's disregard for the Palestinian national institutions, mainly the PLO's Executive Committee," said the Peoples' Party. The Popular Resistance Committees went further, and said that the move "reveals the deception and lying of the PA against the Palestinians."
Given that almost all of the factions, without exception, disagree with this return to security collaboration with the occupation state, who are the PA and Hussein Al-Sheikh actually representing with this decision? It can only be Israel. Oh, and Fatah, which is the only major faction not to condemn the move. No surprise, of course, but shameful nonetheless.
According to Palestinian political analyst Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, the timing of the announcement shows clearly that the Palestinian authority "is infected with the security cooperation virus and needs no persuasion to keep it going." The authority has, he added, "Turned its back on the people of Palestine in order to give a warm 'welcome back salute' to Israel."
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.