Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority today in the wake of new developments in the negotiations for the release of the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza.
Israeli Daily Ha'aretz reported today that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority for the second time this week. This comes in response to fears that a successful prisoners swap deal with Hamas would result in an influx of Hamas leadership into the West Bank.
This follows reports yesterday that Olmert is pushing to form a committee to re-examine the criterions that are obstructing a large number of Palestinians from being included on a list of potential prisoners to be swapped for the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a raid in 2006. He is being held in Gaza pending negotiations. As of now 70 of the 450 prisoners demanded by Hamas have been cleared to be included in any potential deal.
Earlier this week Abbas threatened to hand over responsibility for security in the West Bank to the Israeli Army in response to daily incursions by the Israeli army in West Bank cities and the deadlock in peace negotiations.
At that time, newspaper sources reported that the Palestinian Authority would take one of three possible steps. One would be unilaterally stopping negotiations with Israel. Another would be to announce a Palestinian State from one side. The third potential step would be to remove all Palestinian security forces from the West Bank and redeploy them only in Jericho city.
The Newspaper said that the Palestinian Authority was to look to make a decision about what route to take by late September 2008.
These developments come in following a recent spike in internecine fighting between Hamas and Fatah after a car bomb went off in Gaza city, killing 6 people. Hamas issued a statement blaming Fatah for the blast, and responded by raiding Fatah offices and arresting 40 members of the organization including journalists loyal to the movement. In West Bank the PA conducted raids in Jenin and arrested 37 Hamas activists there.
It is unclear how the dismantling of the PA would be accomplished and whether this would take place in tandem with or separately from the potential redeployment of security forces and handover to the Israeli Army.