(JNi.media) A series of secret meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials, representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas respectively, is being held for several months now, and has led to a series of measures to ease the tension between the two parties, Walla revealed.
Among other things, the ongoing, secret meetings have stopped the Palestinian appeal to the UN and other international organizations, while slowing down construction in the settlements.
A Palestinian source described this as merely “a new assessment of the situation in the region, not an agreement.”
Also: a new understanding is emerging between Netanyahu and Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog regarding expanding the current coalition government (see at the end of this report).
The secret meetings were the forum that forged the Israeli decision to make meaningful concessions to the Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan, as PA residents were given dawn-to-sundown permits to cross the green line in order to worship on the Temple Mount.
Although given for the daytime only, the permits were otherwise unrestricted, and many Palestinians took advantage of them to visit Israel’s beaches and other tourist attractions.
But that concession was just the tip of the iceberg in thawing Israeli-Palestinian relations (mixed metaphor in the original Walla story). This new understanding between the two sides has been in place for three months, driven by both sides’ desire to keep the calm in view of the geopolitical unrest sweeping much of the Middle East.
“The parties understand each other’s needs,” one anonymous source told Walla.
As to building in Judea and Samaria settlements, current construction continues, but for several months now there have been no new permits issued for future construction plans.
An Israeli source told Walla that permits are only being issued for construction classified as “natural expansion,” and nothing more. But the source attributed the slowdown in construction to fear of negative reaction from the international community, rather than the application of a negotiated understanding with the PA.
On Monday, a group of council heads in Judea and Samaria who had met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli media that he said to them “it is impossible to further develop the settlements, we need instead to maintain what there is.”
Netanyahu reportedly told one council head at the meeting: “You’re worried about your community’s interests, I’m worried about the interests of the entire country.”
According to senior sources on the Palestinian side, further trust building measures between Netanyahu and Abbas are expected soon. Among other things, a senior cabinet minister will be meeting with a senior PLO official overseas. There is an expectation that Israel will unfreeze economic plans in the Israeli-controlled Area C, facilitate Palestinian family reunification inside green-line Israel, and arm Palestinian security forces.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that the report is incorrect. There was no response from the office of PLO head negotiator Saeb Erekat.
The new understanding with the Palestinians is only one of a few revelations of the Netanyahu Administration. The other, which may soon generate a minor earthquake in Israeli politics, is with the Zionist Camp, a.k.a. the Labor party.
The Prime Minister met on Tuesday night with leader of the Knesset opposition parties, Yitzhak Herzog (Labor), to discuss the Iran deal. Netanyahu updated Herzog on the reports given at the cabinet meeting regarding the security implications of the agreement. Speaking to the press, Herzog stressed his commitment to doing everything for Israel’s security in the new situation. Netanyahu said he values very much the agreement with the opposition on the danger to state security, adding that on this issue, relating to the most significant national interest, it is important to show the world a united front.