Ramallah: Palestinian leaders voted on Monday to call for the suspension of recognition of Israel in a move with potentially deep implications as they met in response to US President Donald Trump’s declaration of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
While withdrawing the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s recognition of Israel could spark international backlash, it was unclear whether the vote was binding.
A previous vote by the same Palestinian Central Council, a high-ranking arm of the PLO, in 2015 to suspend security coordination with Israel was never implemented. That vote was also reaffirmed on Monday.
However, even if the move goes no further, the vote was another expression of Palestinian fury over Trump’s occupied Jerusalem declaration and what they see as the White House’s attack on their long bid for statehood.
On Sunday as he opened the meeting, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who voted in favour of the suspension, called Trump’s peace efforts the “slap of the century.”
The vote ordered the Palestine Liberation Organisation to suspend its recognition of Israel until it “recognises the state of Palestine”, cancels its annexation of occupied east Jerusalem and stops colony activity, a statement said.
The PLO is considered the official representative of the Palestinians internationally and formalised its recognition of Israel in 1993.
In a statement, the delegates also backed comments on Sunday by Abbas that the Oslo peace accords of the early 1990s, which form the basis of the Palestinians’ relations with Israel, were “finished.”
Abbas had said that Israel had ended the accords through its actions, referring to activities seen as eroding the possibility of a two-state solution such as persistent settlement building.
Removing the ‘mask’?
There was no immediate Israeli reaction to the vote, but earlier Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas’s comments had “torn off” his “mask” as a supposed moderate.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and does not recognise Israel, appeared to welcome the vote but said in a statement that the “real test” would be “to implement it effectively on the ground and put in place the necessary mechanisms.”