PA in secret talks with Israel as West Bank raids escalate
Over recent years, the PA has lost much of its credibility in the West Bank due to its deep security ties with Tel Aviv
By News Desk - February 21 2023

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau and Palestinien President Abbas at the White House Washington

(Photo Credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)

According to a 20 February report by Israeli news outlet Walla, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas have established a secret communication channel. 

This marks the first time the leaders have contacted one another since the formation of Israel’s new far-right coalition government. The report added that US President Joe Biden is aware of the communication channel; however, it is yet to be disclosed whether other high-ranking coalition government officials had been aware of it.

Local reports indicate that a few weeks prior, the PA’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al-Sheikh, relayed messages via Washington to Netanyahu’s office to affirm the PA’s readiness to cooperate with Israel’s new government. 

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi confirmed the existence of talks between the PA and the Israeli government during a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations held in Jerusalem.

The report about a secret communication channel between the PA and Israel coincides with recent mass arrests of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained at least 27 Palestinians on 20 and 21 February.

According to PPS, 15 detainees were arrested in Hebron’s Al-Fawwar refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, with other arrests taking place in Jenin and Nablus. Israeli police also aggressively stormed a number of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.

The detainees have been transferred for interrogation by the Israeli security service on charges of ‘participating in popular resistance’ against settlers and troops, PPS added.

In Jenin, Israeli forces arrested Omar Abed Al-Bayan and Bashar Qasrawi, Al-Mayadeen reported. Upon storming the city, Israeli troops were met with heavy gunfire from resistance fighters.

Israeli troops also stormed the Urif village in the city of Nablus, detaining two Palestinians who were wanted for “terror activity,” according to Israeli media.

In response to the wide-scale raid and arrest campaign, the Jenin Brigade of the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) resistance movement announced on 21 February that its fighters targeted the Israeli Shaked settlement in the northern West Bank with heavy gunfire.

On 20 February, Palestinian resistance groups condemned the PA’s decision to withdraw a proposed bill from the UN Security Council (UNSC) against expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Anonymous Israeli and US officials revealed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to stop pursuing the anti-settlement bill at the UN in exchange for Tel Aviv temporarily suspending unilateral actions in the occupied West Bank.

Over recent years, the PA has lost much of its credibility due to its deep security ties with Tel Aviv, as well as the brutality at times used by its own security forces. In contrast, Gaza-based factions like the PIJ have gained support across the occupied territories.

Most Popular