Violence ebbs, but Abbas still rejecting talks
A FLURRY of diplomatic initiatives seem to have caught the Palestinian leadership off-guard, just as the recent wave of violence appears to be subsiding.
PrimeMinisterBenjaminNetanyahu has been quick to accept any proposal for him to meet his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas.
However, Mr Abbas, anxious not to appear to be collaborating with the Israelis, has rebutted offers from the American, French and Jordanian governments to arrange a meeting between the two leaders.
The Palestinians also dismissed US State Secretary John Kerry’s plan — accepted by Israel — to defuse tensions around Temple Mount by mounting surveillance cameras there.
Mr Abbas is caught between his desire to maintain order in the Palestinian Authority and his reluctance to appear out of step with the Palestinian public, which is generally supportive of the recent violence against Israel.
The Palestinian media has been hostile to the plan to put cameras on Temp l e Mount, portraying it as an attempt t o b o l s t e r Israeli control of the contested site.
Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu has affirmed Israel’s commitment to the status quo there, saying that only Muslims would be allowed to pray at the site. He added that Jews and members of other faiths could visit but not worship.
The Israeli prime minister is under
Israeli soldiers near Hebron lift a wounded Palestinian terrorist, shot after he tried to stab a soldier considerable pressure himself, both at home and abroad.
New initiatives to break the diplomatic deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, coming this time from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogh- erini, and New Zealand, currently a UN Security Council member, could cause Mr Netanyahu trouble with his rightwing coalition.
The initiatives are aimed at breathing new life into the two-state solution and, while Israeli diplomats feel that both initiatives are more even-handed than previous proposals, they could force Mr Netanyahu to commit to positions that most of his coalition opposes.
The Security Council resolution that the New Zealand government is planning to table would require Israel to freeze settlement activity and the Palestinians to refrain from attempts to launch investigations and prosecutions against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
Although the Israeli government has not authorised any new building in the settlements since mid2014, openly affirming this policy would invite instant accusations from the right, including from Likud ministers, that Israel is “capitulating to terror”.
The prime minist e r,
Abbas who has come under fire from his own ministers for not ordering more drastic measures and new settlementbuilding in retaliation against the recent attacks on Israelis, is loathe to provoke another confrontation.
On Sunday, Mr Netanyahu defused another potential crisis within his coalition when he decided to defer a cabinet vote on the “Jewish nation state” law, which would have affirmed the supremacy of the Jewish character of Israel over its democratic principles.
Although he has championed the law in the past, pushing the legislation now would cause at least some of the members of the centrist Kulanu party in his coalition to break ranks and either vote against or abstain once the law reached the Knesset. A senior IDF officer said this week that in recent days the PA has become more serious about preventing violence, as it fears that it is about to lose control of the West Bank.
While there are still attempted stabbings on a daily basis, most of them are now taking place around points of friction in the West Bank, such as in Hebron, and are dealt with by
Abbas doesnot wantto appearoutof stepwiththose backingterror