Middle East Monitor / June 16, 2021
The Palestinian Authority has formed a negotiating team to deal with the new Israeli government at the request of the administration of US President Joe Biden, Israel’s Channel 12 reported yesterday.
The channel quoted a “high-ranking” Palestinian Authority official as saying that the PA will demand, during its talks with the new Israeli government, to return to the situation that existed in the West Bank before the Second Intifada, including stopping the Israeli army’s incursions into Area A.
According to the report, the PA’s negotiating team will also demand that the PA’s role in Areas B and C be expanded, especially where security issues are concerned and to take “measures to build mutual confidence in order to preserve the possibility of implementing the two-state solution”.
The report said the White House had worked to form the Palestinian negotiating team even before the fall of the government of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and as soon as it became clear that a new government was taking the helm in Israel, it sped up coordination for its formation with the aim of holding talks “as soon as possible.”
The channel said the Biden administration is “interested in opening Israeli-Palestinian dialogue channels, through Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister and alternative Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, and not through the new Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.”
An ultra-nationalist, Bennett has previous said no Palestinian state should be formed West of the Jordan River. Adding it would be detrimental to Israel’s existence if it were established.
The report added that the US administration intends to appoint Hady Amro, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, as its representative in the talks and possibly as a consul general in Jerusalem.
The Israeli Minister of Defence, Gantz said during talks with U.S. officials, including Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, that he would work “to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and moderate actors in the region”.
Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported on Tuesday that the most important issues facing the new Israeli government is that “Gantz must maintain relations with the Palestinian security services, prepare for the day after the departure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and weave strategic relations with the Americans, who are concerned with strengthening the Palestinian Authority.”
A new Israeli government was sworn in on Sunday and sees Bennett and Lapid sharing a rotating premiership. Eight parties make up the coalition which has little in common except the will to oust Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.