The Palestinian failure to respond positively to a series of recent Israeli
goodwill gestures shows that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is
“unable to enter into negotiations that will require concessions,” according to
an internal government memo made known to The Jerusalem Post.
according to senior government officials, reflects “anger in Jerusalem” over the
PA’s recent behavior.
“It appears that despite a series of steps taken by
Israel, the Palestinian Authority nevertheless continues in a very negative
pattern of behavior,” one official said.
The official singled out a
letter the PA wrote the EU last week, coinciding with the EU-Israel Association
Council meeting in Brussels, calling upon the Europeans to freeze discussions
about a political upgrade in relations with Israel.
According to the
official, Israel has made a number of goodwill gestures lately toward the
Palestinians, including recently agreeing to start negotiations with the
Palestinians on developing the Gaza Marine gas field off the Gaza Strip
Israel agreed to start negotiations with Palestinians and British
Gas about getting the gas field “up and running,” the official said.
field – with an estimated 30,000,000,000 cu.m.of gas – was discovered some 12
years ago opposite Gaza. The gas, when extracted, is expected to be an important
source of revenue for the PA, which is facing a harsh financial
Other goodwill steps the official cited Israel has taken recently
included the signing this week of an economic accord with the PA aimed at
enhancing trade and clamping town on tax evasion; the decision on the eve of
Ramadan two weeks ago to advance the PA some NIS 180 million of tax money so
salaries could be paid; and the transfer in May to the PA of the bodies of some
In addition, the government’s economic cabinet recently
decided to increase the number of Palestinian construction workers allowed to
work in the country by some 5,000.
“We think we have taken some bold
steps, but that the Palestinians have refused to pick up the ball, and refuse to
cease behavior that we see as hostile,” the official said, characterizing the
PA’s letter to the EU as “old-fashioned Israel-bashing.”
Palestinians have to make a decision,” the official continued. “Do they want to
go ahead with cooperation – and there is so much to be gained by that – or do
they want to continue with unilateral steps, and reflexive anti-Israel
According to the official, Israel carried out its series of
goodwill gestures to show the PA “we were serious about creating a better
atmosphere. Unfortunately the Palestinians refuse to take similar steps to put
the process back on track.”
Instead of taking reciprocal goodwill steps,
he said, they were talking once more about unilateral action by again seeking
statehood recognition at the UN General Assembly meeting in September. The PA
did not respond to a request for comment.