Vi­o­lence ebbs, but Ab­bas still re­ject­ing talks

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

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

sol­diers there.

Ab­bas does­not wantto ap­pearoutof step­with­those back­ingter­ror



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