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President Mahmoud Abbas announced yesterday that the Palestinian Authority has effectively pulled out of the 1993 Oslo Agreements and said Israel would now have to assume responsibility for the civilian Palestinian population of the West Bank.

The president, who has threatened such a move on a number of occasions previously, told a meeting in Ramallah: “The Palestine Liberation Organisation and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.” Abbas said he is taking the step, which would mean an end to security cooperation between Israel and the PA, in response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent plans to annex  the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But some Israelis and independent commentators cast doubts on whether Abbas would follow through on the threat, which could leave thousands of Palestinians working in public services unpaid. Eitan Dangot, a former general who once headed the Defence Ministry body for coordinating with the Palestinians, said: “He’s just ratcheting up the threat level. Abbas won’t take a practical step, and is trying to put pressure on Israel.” Daniel Levy, the president of the US-Middle East Project, said “the bar is very high” for Abbas to show this is not another empty threat.
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