Secret Israel-PA Communication Channel Revealed

Covert talks to 'change reality on ground in Gaza' with PA unity government held in parallel to official Cairo truce talks.

Ari Yashar ,

Rami Hamdallah
Rami Hamdallah
Flash 90

A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) source revealed to Yedioth Aharonoth that a secret channel of communication exists between Israel and the PA in parallel to the Cairo truce talks, through which Israel is negotiating with the PA, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives.

The source exposed that a senior Israeli diplomat who was left unnamed met on Tuesday with PA unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah to speak about a number of steps by Israel to provide relief for residents of Gaza.

A senior Israeli source speaking to the Hebrew-language news source described the meeting as "coordination with a goal of changing the reality on the ground."

"These talks are not meant to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather they parallel the ceasefire talks," said the source. "The goal is to ensure supervision over what's happening in Gaza, and that can be done with the UN or with the (Palestinian) Authority."

The source continued "for the Authority to do that, we need to coordinate processes with them and also to change the reality on the ground for the Gaza residents. It's meant to establish a basis for the ceasefire."

Other Israeli diplomatic sources claimed the Ramallah meeting was a routine affair before Muslim holidays, as this Saturday marks Eid al-Adha which celebrates Abraham's "binding of Ishmael," in a Muslim appropriation of the original Torah story. The sources insisted there is no change in the policy of no direct talks with the PA since its unity deal with Hamas, but wouldn't reveal details of the talk's contents.

The meeting with Hamdallah is important because last week in Cairo, Hamas and the PA reportedly agreed to let the unity government take responsibility for Gaza by supervising crossings, making Hamdallah as head of that government the source to talk to for coordinating happenings in Gaza.

As part of that process, Hamas official Izzat Al-Rishq last week said 3,000 PA Security Forces troops would be deployed to Gaza, and that the wage war to have the unity government pay Hamas employees would be resolved via a third-party country acting in coordination with the PA.

Letting Gaza residents into Jerusalem?

Reportedly, dramatic relief steps are being discussed by Israel in the various talks that come following the terror war that Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists launched on Israel from Gaza.

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, Gaza has strongly demanded that male residents over the age of 60 be allowed to enter Jerusalem and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount for Muslim holidays.

In a PA unity government meeting on Tuesday, it was announced that Israel had agreed to let Gaza residents travel to Jerusalem to pray at the mosque built on the holiest site in Judaism.

Another strong demand has been that Israel allow Gaza-produced goods to be marketed in Judea and Samaria, and let students from Gaza study in Judea and Samaria or abroad.

Israel has already agreed to raise the number of Gaza merchants travelling to Judea and Samaria to 200 per day, raised the maximum age of children allowed to accompany family visits to the area to 16, and given humanitarian visit permits to grandfathers and grandmothers.

When Cairo truce talks resume in the last week of October, other major topics will be raised such as control of Gaza border crossings, their supervision, and letting Gaza goods be exported abroad.

Hamas has also leveled the extravagant demands of a sea and airport in Gaza, and according to reports Tuesday is close to achieving a terrorist swap deal for the bodies of fallen soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul hy"d.

For its part, Israel's lone demand for the disarmament of Gaza has been completely rejected by Hamas, leading many to question why Israel is negotiating numerous concessions with the terrorist group.