Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are expected to soon meet for discussions on significant issues.

At their upcoming meeting in Ramallah, Abu Mazen will reportedly demand Gantz start the process of drawing up permanent borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to what sources in the PA told the Arabic newspaper “A Shrek al-Awsat.”

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According to these Arab sources, Abu Mazen recently suggested that the US, Egypt and Jordan begin negotiations to demarcate the borders as a first step.

Abu Mazen is expected to once again convey to Gantz his threat to take unilateral action on declaring an independent state and to make a case against Israel in the world court if Israel does not withdraw, within one year, from what he declares to be Palestinian Authority territory, including parts of Jerusalem. He made this same threat when speaking before the UN in September.

A senior official in the PA told TPS, “Economic peace does not keep pace with the PA’s deterioration or with the rate at which Hamas is rising in the region, with criticism of the Palestinian Authority or its status in various areas, such as Jenin, Hebron, or the refugee camps.”

He added, “Abu Mazen and the Palestinian leadership as a whole believe that civilian and economic measures in the framework of efforts to build a training camp are not sufficient to prevent the rise of Hamas.”

In addition to the Gantz-Abu Mazen meeting, an American-PA dialogue is expected to be held this week for the first time in five years, since before President Trump assumed office. It is designed to examine the ways to American aid and the development of the Palestinian Authority economy.

The new dialogue is expected to review American aid to the PA and the development of the Palestinian Authority economy. The first session of the renewed dialogue will take place on Tuesday. It will be held via video conference and the PA delegation will be led by their Minister of Economy, Khaled Assili.

TPS has learned that the PA are expected to ask the US to stop Israel from deducting millions from its transfer of payments to the PA coffers, which Israel intends to deduct in response to the PA’s payments of money on behalf of conceited terrorists held in Israel.

A senior Palestinian Authority official, however, told TPS that the PA responded to a US request made a few months ago not to sever ties with the current Israeli government over the matter. This came in exchange for a promise that the United States would also act on the matter with Israel.

Another source in the PA confirmed this and said that the Americans have proposed to the Palestinian Authority to reform the issue of salaries for security prisoners and that they see this as a critical step towards restoring relations between the parties.

The new dialogue joins a series of recently announced measures, including the renewal of US aid to UNRWA, the expansion of the USID agency’s operations, and the provision of $15 million in aid to Arab hospitals in Jerusalem.

The parties are now expected to examine how the Palestinian Authority Treasury can be supported, on a monthly basis.

Along with progress on economic issues, senior officials in Ramallah said that there is no chance of resuming the peace process in the near future and that American policy on the PA issue has turned out to be a great disappointment for the PA, as it is limited to economic matters only.

A-Shrek al-Awsat also reports that countries in the region have made it clear to the PA that the situation does not allow for the opening of a political process due to the composition of the current Israeli government, so the PA chairman decided to make threats if his position on “borders first” is not accepted.

Against the background of all this, the Central Council is expected to convene in January to discuss Abu Mazen’s statement and his threat to withdraw from the Oslo Accords. A source in the PLO told TPS that the Central Council is pressuring the Executive Committee to implement decisions that have already been made regarding the withdrawal of recognition of Israel and even a withdrawal from the Oslo Accords and is demanding that Abu Mazen not wait a year.

However, it is clear to the members of the Central Council that Abu Mazen is not expected to approve the decision that has been made time and time again in the Executive Committee in recent years.

Meanwhile, criticism of Abu Mazen is also growing in Fatah. A senior member of the organization told TPS, “Abu Mazen has failed in foreign affairs as much as he has failed in internal affairs and that he is left without pressure on Israel except for the threat of withdrawal from the Oslo Accords.”

According to this source, Abu Mazen had to officially announce that the non-opening of the American consulate in Jerusalem is tantamount to acknowledging that the United States has given up on a two-state solution and therefore the Palestinian Authority is also giving up on it.

He added, however, that the United States was determined to open the consulate, but would do so only after the end of the discussion on the issue of the Iranian nuclear deal, since, by definition, “the US does not want to stretch the rope too much with the Israeli government on two significant issues at once.”

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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.