TEL AVIV – The high committee of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party made a quiet decision yesterday to stop disarming members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group, according to an informed Palestinian security source.
The decision to allow the Brigades, Fatah’s so-called military wing, to bear arms is in violation of a 2007 amnesty agreement signed with Israel that requires Brigades members to completely disarm.
The security source further divulged a Fatah decision to allow the Brigades and other gunmen to carry out what is being described as “low-grade” attacks, meaning stoning throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks aimed at Israeli forces in the West Bank.
Such attacks are means to ensure Israel and the U.S. see the necessity of moving forward with Israeli-Palestinian talks and with the diplomatic process aimed at creating a Palestinian state, the source further said.
WND has learned that, already, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in recent days has held two armed marches, one in the Balata camp in Nablus and another in the Askar camp on the outskirts of Nablus in the northern West Bank. The marches, the first of their kind since 2007, also violate the terms of the amnesty agreement signed with Israel.
Perhaps as part of the strategy of violence as a pressure tactic, the PA this week released from its prisons at least 12 members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups who were captured in recent months.
The move comes as the executive committee of the PLO earlier this month formally endorsed the use of what it called “popular resistance” – a phrase tacitly green lighting the use of demonstrations, stone throwing and Molotov cocktails.
Why Obama is visiting Israel
President Obama will visit Israel in March.
WND reported Obama’s planned visit to Israel already has secured Israeli and Palestinian pledges to restart so-called land-for-peace talks, according to informed Palestinian and Israeli officials.
The officials disclosed the Obama administration told both sides the talks would be aimed at creating a Palestinian state in what is known as the 1967 borders, meaning an Israeli retreat from some of the strategic West Bank and possibly some eastern section of Jerusalem.
According to the informed officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that once the talks begin, there will be a silent, undeclared freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem with the exception of what are known as main blocs – Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion.
The officials said the White House was adamant that Israeli talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas begin regardless of the position of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Still, the U.S. is supporting Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey in back-door efforts to broker a national unity deal between Abbas and Hamas during the same time period that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are set to take place, the officials said.
There is already close coordination between the White House and likely incoming members of Netanyahu’s government coalition who are known to be sympathetic to creating a Palestinian state, primarily former opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Further, WND was told that Livni and former Minister Haim Ramon are currently coordinating the renewal of talks with the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat.
Regarding Jerusalem, the informed Israeli and Palestinian officials said the White House has been nonspecific other than to champion talks based on what is known as the Clinton parameters.
The formula, pushed by Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab.
WND previously reported Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, changing facts on the ground that result in Arab majorities on certain neighborhoods.
The informed officials, meanwhile, said the White House expects the issue of Jerusalem to be a key impediment in reaching a deal and is therefore discussing the formation of an international committee to help smooth the process.
Previous Israeli-Palestinian talks saw the U.S. naming an envoy meant to broker between the two sides. According to the officials speaking to WND, the White House has expressed interest in naming an envoy but has doubts about whether such a point man will be successful.
The officials said the PA is pushing for a U.S. envoy while Netanyahu’s government is indifferent to the idea.
As a way to entice the PA back to the bargaining table, the White House agreed to release some $200 million in aid that it has withheld for months, said the officials. According to the officials, the deal with brokered with the Palestinians by incoming Secretary of State John Kerry.