From Abbas to Hamas, Palestinian Leaders Have No Strategy Against Annexation

The serious dangers of Israel’s lurking annexation cannot be overemphasized. Once officially implemented, it would be nearly impossible for any future Israeli government to walk it back or undo the ensuing damage.

Annexation would leave Palestinians with an unlivable, shakshuka-like non-state, irrevocably and perhaps fatally compromise the Palestinian peace camp, terminally alienate two-states advocates, and lead to long-term radicalization among impoverished Palestinians with no political horizon or improvement in living conditions in sight.

And yet Palestinian leaders have little planned to prevent the move, or retaliate against it. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas vowed last month to terminate all agreements with Israel on the eve of annexation, and further announced Tuesday that the PA is absolved from – rather than abrogates – all such agreements, including security coordination.

Azzam Al-Ahmad, a senior a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said Wednesday that Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh will meet with the heads of the Palestinian security forces over the next 48 hours to carefully study the security relationship with Israel.

– Wafa tweet

(19 May, Wafa News) #Breaking: President #Abbas declares an end to all agreements and understandings with #Israel and the US Govt, this includes security agreements and cooperation. #Palestine #PLO @WAFA_PS

— State of Palestine (@Palestine_UN) May 20, 2020

However, such threats now ring hollow on the ears of Palestinians let alone Israelis. Everyone questions the seriousness of Abbas’ intentions and declarations when he’s made the exact same threats since 2016 without following it with any notable measures on the ground.

Meanwhile, the guiding pretext for Hamas’ lack of strategy is sparing Gaza another destructive war. Hamas’ plan against annexation has been to throw shade on the PA, bring its inaction into the spotlight and frame it as responsible for whatever comes next.

Senior Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook has recently proposed that if annexation proceeds, the PLO should terminate all agreements with Israel, particularly security coordination, and the Palestinian leadership should move abroad to manage the conflict from the outside, a return to the olden days of PLO leadership in exile in Tunis.