PA Violence Continues; Direct Talks Reported to be Near
Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist groups have stepped up their attacks in Judea and Samaria as pressure over Israel-PA negotiations increases and rumors swirl regarding an impending move to direct talks.
Two IDF soldiers and a civilian woman were wounded in rock-throwing attacks in the past week. In other such attacks, vehicles were damaged but the passengers escaped injury. In one such case, a driver escaped unscathed despite being targeted by a barrage of Molotov cocktails; the vehicle was damaged.
PA officials recently admitted that Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is under intense pressure to agree to direct negotiations with Israel. Abbas has demanded that Israel freeze construction east of the 1949 armistice line and agree to use the line as the base for negotiations on the borders of a PA state. Only when Israel concedes will the PA begin talks, he says.
This week, two reports appeared to suggest that Israel is under pressure to agree to Abbas's demands. On Friday, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayyat reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed to give Abbas 90% of Judea and Samaria for the establishment of a PA state, and to forcibly expel the roughly 50,000 Jews living in the area.
Netanyahu's office has denied the report. Netanyahu also reportedly told US envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday that he cannot accept the PA's latest demand - namely, that direct talks be renewed on the basis of a Quartet declaration that the Palestinian state be based on the pre-1967 borders. The prime minister reportedly said that the talks should simply begin without any pre-conditions.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Abbas may agree to direct talks if Netanyahu agrees to a PA state with borders based on the 1949 armistice line – an agreement that would leave the PA with all of Judea and Samaria and much of Jerusalem, including the Old City and other historically Jewish neighborhoods such as Shiloach (Silwan) and Shimon Hatzaddik.
The Reuters report was based on a letter written by European Union representative Catherine Ashton. Ashton allegedly said that Abbas would agree to direct talks next week if Israel gives in to his demand, and called on the international Quartet to provide Abbas with support.
Abbas has stated for some time that he is prepared to move to direct talks if Israel gives in to his demand for control over all areas that were under Jordanian control between 1949 and 1967.