The Palestinian Authority has not agreed to allow the IDF to conduct hot pursuit after terrorists into Area A of the West Bank, and won’t in the future, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported Wednesday.
Quoting an unnamed senior PA security official, the paper said that the PA has been seeking to regain full control over Area A according to a defined and short timetable. Area A consists mostly of the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank which, according to the Oslo Accords, are supposed to be under the exclusive control of the PA.
Until 2002, the IDF refrained from entering Area A.
The PA security official’s remarks came amid recent reports that Israel and the PA have been holding secret talks about the security situation in the West Bank, including the possibly of stopping IDF incursions into Area A in pursuits of Palestinian security suspects.
“Area A is one inseparable unit and we insist on restoring our full sovereignty over it,” the official was quoted as saying. “We also insist that Israel respect this sovereignty and refrain from violating it no matter what the reason.”
The official said that the PA had never accepted the Israeli demand to conduct hot pursuits into Area A. He added that the PA considers this issue as part of previous agreements that should be implemented by Israel.
On Tuesday IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel was in talks with the PA over security issues, but that these talks have no connection to any diplomatic process.
Earlier this week an Israeli official said the IDF enters this areas only because the PA security forces have failed to combat terrorism.
On Wednesday former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak reacted to reports that the IDF recommended no longer entering cities in Area A by saying that Netanyahu should listen to security officials.
“This wave of terrorism must be destroyed like its predecessors,” Barak said. “I recommend that those who are currently navigating to listen well to the heads of the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police. They are terrific people, and they are doing what must be done, learning quickly. It is not simple, but they need to be heard.”
In response to Israeli charges that the Palestinians are good at missing opportunities, the PA security official said: “There were no opportunities at all. The Israelis continue to ignore signed agreements. Unfortunately, when they talk about missed opportunities, they are referring to parts of Area A. This takes us back to 1996.”
The PA official said that no Palestinian would accept anything less than the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 “borders” with east Jerusalem as its capital. “The Israelis are the ones who are working to kill any chance for achieving a final-status solution,” he charged, referring to the latest decision to confiscate thousands of dunams of land in the Jordan Valley and statements by some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of large parts of the West Bank.Tovah Lazaroff and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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