Abbas calls for urgent meeting to discuss measures against Israel
The PLO has several measures to protest the Sunday demolition of homes in Sur Baher, like turning to the Hague court or ceasing cooperation with Israel; despite the largely declarative nature of these measures, Israel would be wise not to ignore Ramallah's bitter tones, so it isn't taken by surprise by the PLO's next move
In Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' chambers, the meeting was described as "a watershed moment" that will redefine the organization's relationship with Israel.
"In light of the great ongoing challenges we face from Israel's side — including holding Palestinian tax revenues, the continuation of the destructive settlement program and the destruction of Palestinian citizens' homes — Abbas called an urgent meeting in which important decisions will be taken," said Abbas' spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
In a press conference held by Saeb Erakat, Secretary General of the PLO, he hinted at possible measures that could be decided on Thursday: "The Palestinian leadership is discussing how to cancel all its agreements with Israel," Erakat said.
"The PLO announces the ending of cooperation with Israeli courts and calls on the International Court of Justice to immediately launch an investigation against Israel," Erakat said, adding that the PLO "has spoken to the UN and the EU in regard to Israeli crimes."
The PLO has several tools it can use to pressure Israel, one of which is ceasing its security cooperation with Israeli security forces or limiting it, as it had done during the diplomatic crisis that followed the 2017 Temple Mount crisis, but resumed cooperation shortly after.
The PLO announced it would stop security cooperation with Israel on several other occasions, but the decision was never actually implemented and in fact cooperation between Israel and the PLO has only grown stronger.
Another option for the PLO to sanction Israel is to announce it will not recognizing Israel as long as it does not recognize the Palestinian State, announced by the PLO in the UN. However, this is also a move that holds no impact beyond diplomacy.
The PLO could also decide on resuming efforts to initiate and join international treaties and organizations to denounce Israel, as it had done in the past.
Finally, it could appeal to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, as it had done before, but with no apparent results so far.
Despite the seemingly limited options available to PLO, Israel would be wise not to dismiss the bitter tones the organization has adopted; it could find itself surprised, as it was when Ramallah refused to accept deducted tax revenues from Israel causing serious concerns over a possible financial crisis that could lead to violence against Israel.
Abbas is expected to meet Jordanian King Abdullah II on Wednesday to discuss the all possible options.
Riyad Mansour, the PLO observer in the United Nations, called the Sur Baher demolitions an ethnic cleansing, a forceful transfer of populations and a war crime.
"Is this the price of the failing Bahrain economic workshop, that ignored the root cause of the conflict — a 50-year-old occupation." said Mansour.
"When people live peacefully, despite oppression, their homes get demolished under illegal and untrue excuses. How does this contribute to improving life, respect and stability (in the region)?" said Mansour.