by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 05, 2015 12:00 am
Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, decided on Thursday to stop all forms of security coordination with Israel, Palestinian officials said.
Three members of the Palestinian Central Council, the second highest Palestinian decision-making body, told Reuters the decision was taken during the two-day meeting that ended on Thursday. Decisions by the PLO are usuaully binding on the Palestinian Authority.
"The council decided to cease all forms of security coordination with Israel," a PLO official told Reuters.
The decision was certain to provoke Israel. Security coordination is seen as vital to maintain calm in the West Bank.
Since the beginning of the year, both sides have taken retaliatory steps.
In January, Abbas sought membership in the International Criminal Court, paving the way for possible war crimes charges against Israel.
In response, Israel withheld tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority. Activists in Abbas' Fatah movement countered by enforcing a boycott of goods made by Israeli food companies.
Meanwhile, Israel said on Thursday it would ease restrictions on Gaza vegetable exports for the first time since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in 2007.
Cogat, the military agency that deals with Gaza civilian affairs, said farmers can begin marketing tomatoes and eggplants to Israel next week and other vegetables after that, totaling about 1,500 tons per month. Each ton is valued at about $770.
The income will help Gaza's cash-strapped farmers and other residents of the territory, where Hamas ousted forces loyal to the Western-backed Abbas nearly eight years ago.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade after the takeover, which Israel says is necessary to contain Hamas. Critics say the blockade amounts to collective punishment. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 -- including a 50-day war last summer -- which have further devastated the local economy.