Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president (Photo Credit: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)
On 18 March, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hussein Sheikh announced the group’s participation in a security meeting in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh. The 19 March meeting will include security representatives from Israel, the United States, Jordan, and Egypt.
Sheikh stated that “the Palestinian delegation will participate tomorrow (Sunday) in the Sharm al-Sheikh meeting in the presence of regional and international actors to defend the rights of our people for freedom and independence.”
He added further that the participation of the delegation aimed to “demand the end of the continuing Israeli aggression against the sons of our people and against the measures and policies which violate our blood, land, property and our places of worship.”
Sheikh met with the US Special representative for Palestinian Affairs, Hadi Amr, on 15 March to prepare for the five-way Sharm al-Sheik meeting.
With the escalation in Israeli military raids against Palestinians following the election of Israel’s new far-right government, and the subsequent increase in Palestinian resistance operations in response, in which 87 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed, some Palestinian factions have asked the Palestinian delegation not to attend the Egypt meeting.
Both the Palestinian National Initiative Movement and Hamas called for the Palestinian Authority (PA) not to participate in the Sharm al-Sheikh security meeting with the occupation.
حركة المبادرة الوطنية: "ندعو إلى إلغاء اجتماع شرم الشيخ، ونطالب السلطة الفلسطينية بعدم المشاركة فيه".#قمة_العار pic.twitter.com/rnswFqrDGC
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) March 18, 2023
Similarly, in a press statement to the Quds Network, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Daoud Shehab, said that “Participating in the security meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh will mean acceptance of the massacres committed by the occupation and a reward for their crimes, and we call on the authority and the Arab parties to boycott the meeting.”
Security cooperation between the Israeli army and PA security forces has long been viewed by Hamas and PIJ as a form of collaboration with the occupation. In this view, the PA security forces are acting as proxies of the Israeli military to prevent new Palestinian uprisings, or Intifadas, from breaking out in resistance to occupation.
In the wake of the killing of two Israeli settlers by Palestinians in the town of Huwara last month and the subsequent pogrom carried out by settlers against Palestinian residents of the town, killing one Palestinian and injuring hundreds, PA President Mahmoud Abbas reversed course and instructed PA security forces to confront Israeli troops and settlers if they enter Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.
According to Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Executive Leadership of Fatah and the PLO, “If they enter our lands, don’t hesitate to confront them,” PA security forces had been told. Al-Ahmad also claimed that “Not long ago, they [PA security forces] fought with them [Israeli soldiers] in Huwara,” without giving further details.
It remains to be seen what effect the upcoming 19 March Sharm al-Sheikh meeting will have regarding future security cooperation between the PA and the Israeli army.