Mahmoud Abbas vehemently denied on Thursday a report by the Yediot Acharonot newspaper that his representatives have met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s negotiator in secret back-channel talks for the past three years.
The denial is not surprising, and the report by Yediot’s crack journalist Nahum Barnea also is not so spectacular.
He wrote,” Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu’s confidant, has been traveling to London from time to time and meeting with one of Abbas’ associates. This back-channel diplomacy includes an exchange of messages and ideas and is aimed at solving problems troubling both sides.”
Barnea wrote that the alleged talks were more significant in Netanyahu’s former term of office, when there no official negotiations and it was important for each of them to keep open the lines of communication.
It can be assumed that both sides did not talk about a game-changing peace plan; it can be assumed they did not meet to shoot the breeze over falafel. It also can be assumed that both men were interested in keeping things from unravelling to the point that instability would threaten their political positions, particularly that of Abbas, who has been in office five years past the time for an election.