Abbas Denies Secret Talks With Netanyahu
On Thursday a spokesman of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas denied reports in Yedioth Ahronoth, according to which Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have maintained a secret channel of communication for several years prior to current US-brokered talks.
The reports, which elicited denials from Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina, according to Judea Samaria-based Arab Ma'an News Agency, argue that Netanyahu's delegate Attorney Yitzhak Molcho has been meeting with an associate of Abbas in London for secret talks.
"This back-channel diplomacy includes an exchange of messages and ideas and is aimed at solving problems troubling both sides," according to the report. "Both Netanyahu and Abbas kept the talks confidential in order to avoid political pressure."
The report indicates that the resumption of peace talks under US Secretary of State John Kerry made the secret channel of communication superfluous, "likely prompting Netanyahu to inform some of the Israelis and Americans involved in the talks about the back channel."
Peace talks have been rocky at best, with the PA accusing Israel of "killing the peace process," after indications that Netanyahu plans to announce new building plans next week. The announcement accompanies the release of another batch of terrorist prisoners in "gestures" for the process despite a wave of terror.