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Palestinian officials vote to suspend recognition of Israel, security cooperation

Senior Palestinian official Salim Zaanoun reads a statement at the end of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan. 15. Palestinian leaders voted to call for the suspension of recognition of Israel as they met in response to President Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM — Palestinian leaders on Monday voted to suspend recognition of Israel until it reciprocates by recognizing a Palestinian state and to cease security cooperation, as the political fallout from the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital escalated.

Members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's central council made the recommendation during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where they had gathered to formulate their response to recent moves by Washington that have incensed the Palestinian leadership.

In addition to the Jerusalem decision, the Trump administration has also threatened to close down offices of the PLO in Washington and, according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, attempted to present a peace plan that gave them a suburb of Jerusalem as their capital, instead of the city's eastern side. When Abbas said the United States could no longer be considered a fair broker for negotiations, the U.S. administration threatened aid cuts.

"He's taken us hundreds of miles back," said Qais Abd ­al-Karim, a Palestinian official who was present at the meeting. "The Trump decision on Jerusalem completely destroyed the immediate prospects of any peace process."

In its declaration, the council said the Palestinians should no longer be bound by the Oslo accords, a set of agreements between Israel and the PLO signed in 1993. Those agreements set in place the Palestinian Authority's security cooperation with Israel, with the two sides sharing intelligence to thwart attacks. That cooperation should be stopped "in all forms," the council's statement said. The Palestinian Authority has threatened to make the move in the past, but has never carried through.

The recommendations were made to the PLO's executive committee which still needs to implement them. 

The council also called for a peace process based on the Arab Peace Initiative — which promises normalization of ties with Israel in return for a withdrawal to its 1967 borders — and said until the United States changes its stance on Jerusalem and settlements, any agreement should be rejected.

At the opening session on Monday, Abbas gave a fiery speech attacking President Trump, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Pro-Israel groups denounced it as incendiary and anti-Semitic, saying Abbas was denying the connection of the Jewish people to Israel.

Speaking in New Delhi, where he is traveling on a state visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas was serving Israel's interests by lashing out.

"He exposed what we have been saying all the time, that the root of the conflict is the basic refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders," he said, according to Israeli press ­reports.

Sufian Taha contributed from Jerusalem.

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