PA worried treatment of Abbas will be repeat of Arafat era

Palestinians are concerned Israel may take measures to undermine the PA president or restrict his movement as it did with Yasser Arafat.

Kids with posters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas 311 (R) (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters)
Kids with posters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas 311 (R)
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority is worried that Israel might take measures to undermine President Mahmoud Abbas or restrict his movement, as was the case with his predecessor Yasser Arafat.
An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that he was not aware of any plans to take action against Abbas.
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Over the weekend, the PA leadership sent urgent letters to members of the UN Security Council and to various countries expressing concern over recent statements made by Israeli government officials against Abbas.
The PA is particularly worried about remarks made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week in which he said that Abbas was an obstacle to peace.
The PA leadership is convinced that Lieberman’s remarks against Abbas reflected the views of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a majority of his cabinet ministers.
The PA is concerned that the remarks are designed to pave the way for Israeli military action against Abbas and his top aides. PA officials said they did not rule out the possibility that Israel may confine Abbas to his headquarters in Ramallah and prevent him from traveling abroad.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, who sent the letters on behalf of the PA leadership, said that there was a “real threat” to Abbas’s life in wake of the Israeli “incitement.”
The government last week took punitive steps against the PA such as temporarily suspending the transfer of tax funds. It is also weighing other measures against the PA, such as suspending the special passes that Palestinian officials use to pass easily through IDF checkpoints in the West Bank.
The government also authorized the construction of 1,650 homes in east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods and 327 homes in two West Bank settlements — Efrat and Ma’aleh Adumim.
Meanwhile, the PA has decided to review its entire strategy toward Israel in light of the continued stalemate in the peace process.
A joint PLO-Fatah committee has been formed by Abbas to reassess relations with Israel and to come up with a new Palestinian strategy vis-à-vis the peace process, said Muhammad Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official and adviser to Abbas.
Shtayyeh said that the committee would also discuss the future of the PA amid reports that Abbas was considering dissolving the PA if the Security Council does not approve his application for full membership of a Palestinian state in the UN.
The committee will try to complete its work before Friday, November 11, when the Security Council is expected to decide on Abbas’s statehood bid.
“The Palestinian leadership is laying a new strategy that would be endorsed after November 11,” Shtayyeh told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. “The Palestinian Authority is about to end the status quo and reformulate its relations with Israel.”
Shtayyeh denied that the new Palestinian strategy would be based on dissolving the PA. However, he hinted that Abbas might end the Fatah-Hamas dispute and form a unity government with the Islamist movement.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.