J’lem 'angry' at PA failure to reciprocate goodwill

Internal gov't memo says PA President Abbas “unable to enter into negotiations that will require concessions.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R) (photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R)
(photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
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.
The memo, 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 coast.
Israel agreed to start negotiations with Palestinians and British Gas about getting the gas field “up and running,” the official said.
The 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 crisis.
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 90 terrorists.
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.”
“The 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 actions.”
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.