The Palestinian Authority on Thursday denied that that PA President Mahmoud
Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been conducting secret
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said that the
Palestinians were not conducting any behind-the-scenes negotiations with
The denial came in response to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth,
which revealed that Netanyahu and Abbas have been maintaining a secret channel
of talks for several years.
According to the report, attorney Yitzhak
Molcho, Netanyahu’s confidant, has been travelling to London from time to time
and meeting with one of Abbas’s associates.
This back-channel diplomacy
includes an exchange of messages and ideas and is aimed at solving problems
troubling both sides, the report said.
A source told the paper that
Bassel Aqel, a Palestinian businessman living in London, may be Abbas’s
representative to the secret talks.
It said that there are three goals to
back-channel diplomacy: solving daily problems on the ground; preparing the
ground for a major diplomatic breakthrough; and creating an impression among
those involved in the secret talks that there is an interest in making political
progress while the formal negotiations are deadlocked.
PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the PA leadership should apply for
membership in 63 international organizations, including the International
Criminal Court (ICC), if the Israel government announces plans to build new
housing units in settlements.
Erekat was responding to reports according
to which the Israeli government is planning to announce new plans for
construction in settlements to coincide with the release of more Palestinian
prisoners next week.
Referring to the Israeli plans, Erekat said, “We
strongly condemn this and consider it damaging for the peace
Erekat said that those who fear the ICC should “stop
perpetrating war crimes, including settlement construction, which is a war