Shelly Yechimovich
Shelly Yechimovich Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's controversial suggestion to leave Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria under Palestinian Authority (PA) control is not a new one, MK Shelly Yechimovich revealed Tuesday. 

The MK and former Opposition head revealed on Kol Yisrael radio Tuesday that she had already discussed the subject with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in May. 

"There is outrage and denial following Netanyahu's comments on the subject from the right, from the left and from the Palestinians themselves," Yechimovich noted. "I can't see why it's such a bad idea. During my meeting with Abbas in the muqat'a [...] we discussed the possibility of Israelis living under a sovereign Palestinian state - not dramatically, but casually, as another option [on the table]." 

The muqat'a is the PA seat of government in Ramallah.

"There is no reason to disqualify the very idea outright," Yechimovich insisted. "Netanyahu demanded that the negotiations will begin without preconditions, and that everything will be on the table - so why not have this option on the table?"

"Of course there is a difference between Jewish citizens who are under the complete sovereignty of a Palestinian state and those who live in enclaves and are Israeli citizens or dual citizens, and we must seriously consider the security issues that are bound to arise," Yechimovich continued. "[But] it may be a solution to the settlers who do not want to leave their homes in any way, save traumatic and painful evictions, and may even bring us closer to reaching an agreement [with the PA]." 

News that the Prime Minister's Office had suggested leaving Jewish Israelis in a future Palestinian State first surfaced Sunday, when an anonymous source close to the PMO revealed to reporters that Netanyahu has pushed for Jewish communities to be allowed to remain in a Palestinian state if they choose to do so. 

The report caused considerable controversy, angering PA officials and nationalists alike. PA officials declared that no "settler" would be allowed to remain; nationalist MKs, including Economics Minister Naftali Bennett(Jewish Home) and MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), expressed outrage at the implied disregard for the safety of Israeli citizens.  

Sources close to the PMO claim that the leak was intentional, to reveal to the international media the PA's real hatred for the Jewish people; however, the legitimacy of that claim - or of the reports in general - remains unconfirmed.