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RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian Authority says it will cut the salaries of tens of thousands of its own clerks and police officers. It will slash vital funding to the impoverished Gaza Strip. And it will try any Israeli citizens or Arab residents of Jerusalem arrested on the West Bank in Palestinian courts instead of handing them over to Israel.
Desperate to deter Israel from annexing occupied territory, the Palestinians are taking a number of provocative steps to break off cooperation with Israel and force it to shoulder full responsibility, as a military occupier, for the lives of more than two million Palestinians on the West Bank.
While those measures may seem self-defeating, Palestinian leaders see them as powerful but reversible actions to get the Israelis and the international community to take them seriously and to back down — before, they say, it is too late.
“We are not nihilists, or fools, and we don’t want chaos,” said Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian official in charge of relations with Israel and one of the two closest advisers to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. “We are pragmatic,” he added. “We don’t want things to reach a point of no return. Annexation means no return in the relationship with Israel.”
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