Confidence-building measures with Israel set off blended reactions amongst PA leaders

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The so-called confidence-building steps lately introduced by the Israeli authorities to strengthen the Palestinian Authority (PA) provoked blended reactions amongst PA leaders. This follows a gathering in Ramallah Aug. 30 between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Security Minister Benny Gantz.

The Abbas-Gantz assembly sparked criticism and indignant common and factional reactions, particularly because it uncared for the political dimension, relatively than specializing in the safety and financial features. The assembly was preceded by repeated statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he won’t take part in launching a political course of with the PA and won’t permit the institution of a Palestinian state.

Hours after the assembly, the Palestinian minister of civil affairs and lead liaison with the Israelis, Hussein al-Sheikh, introduced that the Israeli authorities accepted 5,000 household reunification requests for Palestinians. The subsequent day, he tweeted that 4G cell communications will quickly be accessible in Palestine. Sheikh is among the outstanding leaders within the Fatah motion and may be very near Abbas. He was one of many key gamers in arranging the Abbas-Gantz assembly and the primary to announce it in a tweet, saying that the assembly mentioned “Palestinian-Israeli relations in all aspects.” 

Gantz’s workplace stated, nevertheless, that the assembly mentioned safety, civil and financial coverage points, with out referring to the political problem. It additionally confirmed Israel will mortgage the PA 500 million Israeli shekels ($155 million) to alleviate its monetary crunch. The mortgage can be reimbursed from tax funds Israel usually collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

All these strikes apparently didn’t please Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh who can also be a member of the Central Committee of the Fatah motion. In statements Aug. 31, he stated, “We want to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital with the right of return, not the continuation of the status quo and improvement of the living conditions under occupation.” His statements mirrored his place on the introduced steps with the Israeli facet, however remarkably, they weren’t revealed on the web site of the Palestinian official information company Wafa.

The distinction in opinion relating to the current rapprochement between the PA and Israel was obvious between Shtayyeh and Sheikh. While Shtayyeh confused the necessity of ending occupation relatively than enhancing living situations, Sheikh posted on his Twitter account a photograph of dozens of residents lining up in entrance of the General Authority of Civil Affairs headquarters in Ramallah. He commented, “People demanding family reunification flock to update their data at the offices of the General Authority of Civil Affairs Offices. Who should we believe? Those who cling to their right and appreciate achievements no matter how small or those throwing in slogans and promises.”

It appears that the PA’s current rapprochement with Israel was not made with the data of many Palestinian establishments and leaders. A supply within the PLO Executive Committee advised Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that the committee was not consulted with any of those steps. 

After he was named prime minister, Shtayyeh put ahead a plan for disengagement with Israel and pushed laborious to implement it. He banned the import of calves from Israel, and made international excursions to import oil from overseas to dispense with Israeli electrical energy. His plan appears to have hit the wall and failed. Not solely the lately introduced confidence-building steps go towards his plan, they relatively purpose to strengthen the connection between Israel and the PA, all with US help and blessings.

All of the current confidence-building measures, which fall below the heading of enhancing the living situations of the Palestinians and supporting the PA, are the end result of stress exerted by the US administration. It appears the PA has been coping with these measures positively, regardless of the Israeli authorities’s insistence to not focus on the political points. The PA believes that these steps may improve its inner reputation, tame the strain and anger on the street towards it, and restore its relations with the United States.

During a gathering with reporters Sept. 7, Shtayyeh affirmed that the US administration has nothing to supply, noting that Gantz got here to Ramallah on the finish of final month to speak about issues not associated to the political side. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper quoted him describing the current actions as a “false pregnancy” and affirming that nothing has been placed on the desk, and nobody has something to fill the void — not the Americans, nor the Arabs nor the Israelis.

Shtayyeh confirmed that Abbas raised the political points throughout his assembly with Gantz, however the latter provided as an alternative development permits in Israeli-controlled Area C, 5,000 household reunification request approvals and 500 million shekels. He argued that it is a maneuver to include the battle with out resolving it. “We will not say no to those offering facilitations to the Palestinian people, but we affirm that the problem consists of the occupation, Jerusalem and the fragmentation of geography,” he famous.

It appears that the variations that emerged between the leaders of the PA and Fatah don’t revolve in essence about tips on how to cope with Israel, however relatively fall throughout the scope of the efforts of the interior events to gear up for the post-Abbas stage. 

Writer and political analyst Jihad Harb advised Al-Monitor that the contradictory statements between the leaders of Fatah and the PA replicate variations amongst them throughout the framework of the upcoming stage’s preparations. “All parties are trying to show the public opinion the extent of their commitment to the central issues,” he stated.

Harb added, “There are no fundamental differences between these leaders. Shtayyeh and the members of the Central Committee and the PA are all pushing for services-related demands, including the clearance funds, financial transfers, external support and other living-related issues, and not only political issues. They do not disagree on approach, line of thought and politics. Their differences are related to their personal future arrangements, especially in light of the exceptional circumstances we are living in and the absence of a clear mechanism for democratic transition in the event of a sudden vacancy of the position of the president.”

He stated that inner rivalries don’t imply systematic opposition. “Even the government’s program of economic disengagement was disputed and the experience of banning the import of calves from Israel as the first step in that program was a failure,” Harb concluded.

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