JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon unveil a plan that would give the Palestinian Authority full security control of more areas of the strategic West Bank, according to diplomatic officials with specific knowledge of the proposal who spoke to WND.
Separately, sources in the Israeli defense apparatus cited aspects of Netanyahu’s upcoming plan they fear will harm the Jewish state’s anti-terror capabilities.
The Israeli news media has been rife the past few days with reports Netanyahu has drafted a secret plan that will be announced within weeks. Netanyahu himself has talked about a new so-called peace initiative without being specific.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper this week reported the prime minister is considering a plan to cooperate with the Palestinians on the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, as part of an interim peace agreement with that would be implemented immediately. The newspaper did not cite any details of the plan.
Diplomatic officials speaking to WND divulged the plan seeks to give the PA near complete control of territories known as Area A as well as more control of Area B and security compromises in Area C.
Area A refers to West Bank cities in which the PA was granted Palestinian civil and security control as part of the 1993 Olso Accord negotiations. Area B refers to territory under Palestinian civil control with Israeli security control; whereas Area C consists of Israeli security and civil control and includes the territories that contain Jewish communities.
While Area A is already supposed to be under PA security control, in reality, the Israel Defense Forces operates there almost freely at night.
According to Israeli defense officials, the IDF currently has a quiet agreement with PA security forces whereby Palestinian forces allow Israeli troops to carry out nighttime arrest raids without impediment.
The arrests are so frequent there is hardly a night in recent months in which the IDF has not detained at least one wanted Palestinian militant from Area A.
Defense sources told WND that Netanyahu’s new plan of granting the PA complete security control in Area A would stop the night raids with the exception of what are known as “ticking time bombs” –terrorists in the midst of planning or carrying out an imminent attack.
A major problem, the defense sources argued, is that a large portion of Israel’s intelligence on imminent attacks comes from interrogations of the militants arrested in the soon-to-be-halted IDF nighttime raids of Area A.
According to the diplomatic officials speaking to WND, Netanyahu’s plan was formulated under heavy U.S. and international pressure. The announcement was also made in the wake of a recent debate at the United Nations in which Israel’s Jewish communities in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were slammed as “illegitimate.”
Officials in the PA contacted by WND said they were aware of Netanyahu’s plan, and that they are going to publicly reject it once the proposal is announced.
The officials said the PA is concentrating instead on a diplomatic initiative it believes will lead to the eventual declaration at the United Nations Security Council of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, meaning the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. The officials said they believe Netanyahu’s new plan is aiming to head off the PA’s diplomatic initiative of unilateral recognition.
In line with this move, the PA has had much success in recent months in convincing countries to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state and to upgrade Palestinian diplomatic offices to the status of official missions.
A number of Central and South American countries have announced recognition of a Palestinian state. Other countries, most recently the United Kingdom, have upgraded the status of Palestinian missions.
Netanyahu’s plan to give the PA security control of strategic territory comes as WND reported last week the PA has been engaged in an intense effort to convince the Hamas terrorist organization to join it in a new unity government.
Just this past Sunday, Hamas chief Khaled Meshal said in a public address that the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia brought Hamas back to life, adding that Hamas and Fatah must join forces in a jihad against Israel.
According to a senior PA official who spoke to WND last week, the PA has been sending mediators to Hamas in an effort to persuade it into a unity deal.
The PA is ready to give Hamas full official security control of the Gaza Strip if the Islamist organization agrees to form a unity government, the official said.
In 2007, Hamas seized Gaza from the PA, and since then it has maintained a de facto government in the territory. While Hamas largely controls Gaza, the PA still has militias there that are influential in key areas.
The PA official, who spoke to WND on condition of anonymity, said that Hamas would not need to recognize the existence of Israel as a precondition for entering a new unity government.
He said Hamas is being asked to commit itself to previous Palestinian agreements, which would include those signed with Israel, without actually recognizing the specific agreements with Israel. The PA official admitted this request is seemingly contradictory.