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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Palestinian authority to withdraw its recognition of Israel

President Mahmoud Abbas asked to "immediately start preparing plans" for disengagement

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reads notes as he chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 3, 2018, discussing recommendations to suspend the PLO's recognition of Israel in response to US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Abbas Momani / AFP
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reads notes as he chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 3, 2018, discussing recommendations to suspend the PLO's recognition of Israel in response to US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Abbas Momani / AFP

The Palestine Liberation Organisation's top leadership opened the way to suspending its recognition of Israel Saturday, but stopped short of ordering the drastic measure immediately.

Withdrawing the PLO's 1988 recognition would threaten decades of Israeli relations with the moderate Palestinian leadership and raise doubts over security co-ordination between the two.

It would also be seen as a fatal blow to the two-state solution, already on life support following the White House's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

The PLO's Executive Committee released a statement after a three-hour meeting Saturday saying it would set up a committee to study the move.

The organisation's top body was meeting for the first time since the Palestinian Central Council, another arm of the PLO, called for the step last month.

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The executive committee on Saturday urged the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmoud Abbas to "immediately start preparing plans and projects for disengagement steps with the Israeli occupation government at the political, administrative, economic and security levels."

The Palestinian leadership has become increasingly frustrated with the American administration, particularly since President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, in a break with decades of international consensus that the city's fate should be decided in peace talks.

The Palestinians, who also see the city as their capital, cut off ties with Trump and said his decision had placed in jeopardy their relations with Israel.

Last month the PLO's Central Council called on the Executive Committee to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognises the state of Palestine and halts the building of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Western countries have been lobbying senior Palestinian officials to convince them not to take such a step, multiple diplomats said.