For the first time since the early days of the Second Intifada in 2001, the Israeli government is expected to approve a Palestinian Authority request to purchase helicopters for top PA officials’ use.
Following an investigation by the defense establishment, officials have decided to approve the request as part of an effort to boost PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ standing.
Israel will allow the PA to acquire two helicopters using donations from Gulf governments. The aircraft will be based in Jordan and used as senior Palestinian Authority leaders desire. Their entry into Israeli airspace, including Judea and Samaria, will be subject to Israel’s authorization.
Currently, when Abbas wants to travel abroad, Jordan provides him with a helicopter, with Israeli consent required for its entry and exit into and out of Israeli airspace.
During recent discussions between Israeli security officials and the PA, the Palestinian Authority urged that steps be taken to help improve the PA’s status in the West Bank. In addition to the helicopters, they want Israel to free the remains of Fatah terrorists and long-term Fatah prisoners who were not involved in the murder of Israelis.