Palestinians shun CIA after declaring end to security coordination with US and Israel

Saeb Erekat said Washington had been told of the move after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his administration was no longer committed to agreements with Israel and the US. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Palestinians shun CIA after declaring end to security coordination with US and Israel

  • On cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, Saeb Erekat told reporters in a video call: It stopped as of the end of the (Palestinian) president’s speech
  • Palestinians worry that Israel, with the blessing of Washington, could carry out pledges to apply Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank

JERUSALEM/GAZA: The Palestinians have suspended contacts with the CIA after announcing an end to security coordination with Israel and the United States in protest at Israeli proposals to annex territory in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said on Thursday.
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Washington had been told of the move after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration was no longer committed to agreements with Israel and the United States, including on security coordination.
On cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, Erekat told reporters in a video call: “It stopped as of the end of the (Palestinian) president’s speech.”
Intelligence cooperation with the CIA continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting US peace efforts led by President Donald Trump in 2017, with the sides working together on heading off violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based.
Abbas has threatened before to end security ties, without following through. Israeli officials say he needs Israel’s support in the face of domestic challenges from the Palestinian group Hamas.
But Erekat said: “Things change and we have decided it is time now to change.”
“Security cooperation with the United States is no more. Security coordination with Israel is no more,” said Erekat. “We are going to maintain public order and the rule of law, alone.”
The US embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment.
Later in the day, a senior Palestinian security official told Reuters that Palestinian forces had begun to pull back from some areas of the West Bank that they had policed in coordination with Israel during the coronavirus crisis.
“In light of the president’s instructions about ceasing security coordination, the Israeli side was notified” of the partial withdrawal.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment and it was not clear how widespread the Palestinian forces’ drawback was.
Palestinians worry that Israel, with the blessing of Washington, could carry out pledges to apply Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, which they see as annexation.
Palestinians seek statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as their capital.


Kuwait calls for understanding on spending cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

Updated 30 min 48 sec ago

Kuwait calls for understanding on spending cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

  • Kuwait's stimulus package includes a reduction in its discount rate and an offer of up to $811,000 in soft loans for owners of SMEs

DUBAI: Kuwait’s prime minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah called for understanding on ‘critical circumstances’ that required the country to cut spending to address the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on economy, state news agency KUNA reported.
Al-Sabah, who earlier chaired an online cabinet briefing on a government stimulus package, added that authorities should follow all the rules and present “serious cooperation in order to overcome this phase with the least damage possible.”
The stimulus package includes a reduction in its discount rate and an offer of up to $811,000 in soft loans for owners of small to medium-sized enterprises and payable in four years.
A delay in helping companies and SMEs would negatively impact the country’s economy to the extent that they may go bankrupt, Kuwait’s central bank chief Dr. Mohammad Al-Hashel said.
The Kuwaiti cabinet has also approved the Ministry of Finance’s proposals to not raise budgets of independent public authorities, institutions and funds for five years, and also lowering their budgets by 20 percent for the years 2020 and 2021.