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Renewed criticism of Israeli-Palestinian security coordination

The death of Palestinian minister following an assault by Israeli forces has reignited calls to suspend security coordination with Israel
Israeli security forces use tear gas at Palestinians protesting the death of PA minister Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Bel'ein on 12 December, 2014 (AA)

After a senior Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died after being hit by Israeli troops in the West Bank, speculation arose that the Palestinians might cancel security coordination with Israel.

Established under the 1993 Oslo peace accords, the coordination involves the sharing of intelligence between the two sides. What is shared, and how it is done, is a closely guarded secret.

For Israel, it is considered crucial for keeping close tabs on Hamas and its West Bank members, and Israeli media claims cooperation has foiled numerous potential attacks.

It has severely dented the popularity of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmud Abbas, who threatened that "all options" were on the table in response to the death Wednesday of Ziad Abu Ein.

In June, Israel rounded up hundreds of Hamas members in the West Bank following the killing of three Israeli teenage settlers, which it blamed on Hamas.

The mass arrests inflamed tensions and hardened Palestinian criticism of Abbas the PA.

The Oslo accords stipulated security coordination between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) of late leader Yasser Arafat.

That broke down during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising (2000-2005), but was revived under Arafat's successor Abbas.

The accords directly established the Palestinian Authority's security branches: the civilian police; general intelligence, which covers domestic and international portfolios; civil defence, for emergency and rescue; preventative security, which handles political crime; and the National Security Force.

The National Security Force includes border police, navy, military police, military intelligence, customs police, aviation police, and the elite presidential guards.

Some observers say the coordination works to advantage of the PA, which is dominated by Hamas's bitter rivals, Abbas's Fatah party.

Hamas had called on the PA to end their security cooperation with Israel.

"The time has come to rally all our forces in facing the criminal Zionist occupation and stop all sorts of security coordination with the occupation," the group's spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement on Wednesday.

But Palestinians are cynical about the possibility of an end of security coordination with Israel.

"There is no way this will happen, because the PA needs this security coordination. If Abbas wants to go to Jordan, for example, he needs a permit from the Israelis," Lutfi Terawi, a student in the occupied West Bank, told MEE on Thursday.

"Maybe they’ll make it decrease, but they won’t actually stop it. They just want people to calm down. There will be protests now, and for the next few days. But then after that things will go back to normal," he added.

Khaled Al Azraq, a former prisoner, agrees.

"The PA have many agreements with Israel. This limits their movement, it limits what they can do. They need to limit these agreements, and the Government must go to the [UN] Security Council to finish the occupation," Azraq.

"This won’t happen now, and it won’t happen fast. But look at South Africa, which now has its freedom. It will happen after a long time, and after a lot of popular resistance, but it will happen," he added.

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