Pompeo says Palestinians should keep security cooperation

Pompeo says Palestine continues to refuse to enter into negotiations with the US. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday voiced regret at Palestinian threats to end security coordination if Israel annexes occupied territory in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, playing one of his only cards, said Tuesday evening that his government was absolved of all agreements with Israel and the US – including three-way security cooperation.

“We hope that the security arrangements will continue to be in place, that the work that’s done on the ground there to keep people in Israel and Palestinians safe will continue,” Pompeo told reporters.

“I regret that he’s decided to abrogate these agreements,” Pompeo said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been emboldened by a plan unveiled by Trump in January that would give the US blessing for Israel to annex swathes of the West Bank, despite wide concerns in the rest of the world – including neighbouring Jordan, a US ally that has made peace with the Jewish state.

Under a coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz, the two can bring annexation to the cabinet for discussion from July 1.

Pompeo, who met Netanyahu in Jerusalem last week, said the Palestinians would benefit from the Trump plan, which promises them an independent but condensed and demilitarised state as well as international investment.

“The Palestinians have continued to refuse to just simply sit down and enter into negotiation based on President Trump’s Vision for Peace,” Pompeo said.

Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger in November elections, on Tuesday declared his opposition to annexation, saying it would undermine hopes for peace.

The Trump administration has staunchly backed Netanyahu, who is popular with the president’s evangelical Christian base.