Weekly Political Update, Tuesday 30 April 2019

General situation/ highlights

The PA rejects an Israeli “interim offer” re tax revenues: Senior PA officials told Horizon Center that during the meeting between the Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and the PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al Sheikh, the latter rejected an interim Israeli offer to return the Palestinian tax revenues due for the past two months “in full without deductions”. However, the PA officials explained that the Israeli offer falls short of two key Palestinian demands. Those two demands are that Israel will stop making such deductions in all future payments as of May. The second demand is that Israel will freeze the implementation of the Israeli law that criminalizes the prisoners and upon which the deductions are made.  The PA officials said that the offer says that Israel will compensate for the deducted amounts “from other sources” but will not freeze / suspend the enforcement of the Israeli law.  The PA officials said that it was tentatively agreed to hold another meeting to discuss more details of the Israeli offer and the Palestinian demands to end the crisis, but the contacts have stopped since the PA rejected an Israeli condition to accept the two month transfer before holding the meeting. Ends

Highlights of President Abbas letter to regional and world leaders: Senior PA officials said that the letter which is being delivered to world leaders highlights the Palestinian positions against all Israeli practices including intent to annex West Bank settlements. For more details, please see under Political Dynamics/ developments.

President Abbas will visit Russia to meet Putin: Senior Fatah official Azam al Ahamd said that President Abbas will visit Russia to meet with President Putin following the holiday of Eid al Fitr in June. He said that the meeting will address the future Palestinian steps in light of the current political impasse and the harsh financial crisis. The Fatah official said that Russia unequivocally rejects the US deal of the century and opposes all US steps that have been taken against the Palestinians.  

Key highlights of President Abbas remarks: President Abbas reiterated the Palestinian leadership position against the deal of the century. President Abbas vowed not to accept the deducted tax revenues from Israel. He also reiterated the well-known position of conditioning any reconciliation with Hamas on implementing the 2017 agreement. For more details, please see under Public statements.

PLO envoys to world countries:  PA officials said that the Palestinian leadership decided to send deputy PM and Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Abu Rudeineh to Japan, PLO Executive Committee member Bassam al Salhi to Pakistan and India, President Advisor Mahmoud al Habash to Indonesia and Malaysia, PLO Executive committee member Ahamd Al Majdalani to the African Union. Contacts are underway to schedule those visits to deliver the letters.

PM Shtayya headed to Brussels yesterday to attend a meeting for the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) of donor countries scheduled to start today. PM Shtayya had decided to take part in the said meeting after discussing the issue with President Abbas.

Political dynamics / developments

Highlights of President Abbas letter to regional and world leaders: Senior PA officials told Horizon Center that the letter which is being delivered to world leaders highlights the Palestinian positions against all Israeli practices including intent to annex West Bank settlements. The letter indicates that the Israeli policies backed by the US administration have effectively ended the prospects of resuming a peace process to achieve the two state solution on 1967 lines.  The letter also highlights the Palestinian position rejecting the “deal of the century” and underlines the US moves including shutting down the PLO office, and cutting financial assistance as well as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The letter indicates that the Palestinian leadership will find itself forced to implement all previously taken PNC/PCC resolutions including restricting all contacts with Israel. The letter also indicates that the PNC/PCC resolutions include revoking recognition in Israel. The letter also warns that the continuation of the financial crisis will lead to a state of collapse of all forms of services rendered by the PA including security services. The letter urges world countries to support the Palestinian demand to hold an international peace conference and to break the US monopoly over sponsorship of the peace process.

Political statements

Key highlights of President Abbas remarks: as he chaired the PA cabinet meeting yesterday, President Abbas criticized the US for shutting the PLO office in Washington, moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He said the American so-called “deal of the century” is known and there is nothing to wait for even though some countries asked us to wait, “but we have been waiting for 70 years and we can wait any longer”. But the question is to wait for what! What is the purpose of waiting? “We told the Arab League that we will not wait. He said “we are against the deal of the century because what will come is not important, rather what is more important is what has already happened”. We told the US that the doors are open with Congress and the US administration, but only if they rescind their decisions.” He also said “we decided to send envoys all over the world; we started with the Arab League and we will send delegations to Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Latin America, Africa and the EU to overcome this crisis.” President Abbas said that “Israel is trying to legitimize the tax revenues deductions; but we will not accept it,” stressing that “Israel will eventually return our money our way and not their way.”  He said “we paid 50 percent of the employees’ salary for the last two months and this month, and because of the advent of the holy month of Ramadan we are trying to pay 60 percent”.   As for Hamas, he stressed that he will not accept a state within a state, calling for implementing the Cairo reconciliation agreement of October 12, 2017.  President stressed that the PLO’s Central Council, which is considered as the parliament with the powers of the National Council, the PLO’s parliament in exile, is going to meet to decide on the measures it deems appropriate, explaining that “we try not to make uncalculated leaps because to take our people on an adventure is not and will not be easy.”

PFLP reacted to statements made by President Abbas saying that it rejects his reference to Gaza based militias. The PFLP said that the weapon of resistance is a red line stressing that his statement calling to dismantle the militias whether in Gaza or the West Bank is unacceptable. President Abbas had stated that he conditioned reconciliation with Hamas on dismantling weapons of militias refusing to accept a situation where there will be a state within a state.

Other developments/ Security incidents

Shots fired at Doutan checkpoint near Jenin: PA sources confirmed Israeli media reports that shots were fired towards an Israeli checkpoint near Jenin. The PA officials reported that Israeli soldiers fired back injuring at least one Palestinian who was identified later asMirie Hussein Kabaha, 34, a former prisoner who spent 17 years in Israeli jails. IDF soldiers later raided the village of Bir al Basha searching for Walid Ghawadreh, who later surrendered to the IDF. Ghawadreh had served 12 years in Israeli jails. The PA officials said that accruing to Israeli sources the two individuals had opened fire towards Doutan checkpoint.

Hamas claims PASF arrest three members: Hamas issued a statement saying that PASF arrested Izz al Deen Friahat from Tulkarem, Baraa Sway and Samir al Kousa from Nablus. The Hamas statement also claimed that PASF General Intelligence arrested Taysir Jbara from Ramallah area.

Wednesday a holiday on the occasion of the International Labor Day. The PA cabinet announced Wednesday May 1 as an official holiday to celebrate the international Labor Day. The PA cabinet also decided to shorten working hours during the month of Ramadan i.e. 9am-2 pm.

Israeli Bulldozers demolished residential and agricultural structures in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Jabal al-Mukaber, and Sour Baher. According to PA sources, the Israeli municipality demolished several residential and agricultural structures for unpermitted construction. The municipality bulldozers demolished a residential structure made of metals that housed five members of the Jaabis family. Three rooms with a total area of 150 square-meters, a 140 square-meter residential shed, and a 40-square-meter storage shed; all belonging to Imad Abu Sharefeh, were also demolished in the same area. In Jabal al-Mukaber area and Sour Baher, bulldozers demolished sheds used as an animal barns.

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