During a press conference yesterday evening, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that he is seeking a “new diplomatic horizon” in which Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas would have a key role to play.
Briefing the media in Tel Aviv alongside Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu said that Operation Protective Edge is ongoing and pledged that quiet will be restored for Israel’s citizens. Looking further ahead though, Netanyahu said “I hope [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas will have a significant part in the new diplomatic horizon.”
Peace talks between Israel and the PA, brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry were suspended earlier this year after Abbas announced that he would establish a Palestinian national unity government supported by his own Fatah faction and Hamas, which was eventually confirmed in June. The move generated significant distrust towards Abbas among Israeli leaders. However, Abbas has not explicitly supported Hamas since Operation Protective Edge was launched in July.
Netanyahu yesterday indicated that he once again views Abbas as a potential partner in working towards a long-term peaceful solution, saying, “I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so.” Netanyahu added, “I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I’m talking about.”
Tensions between Abbas and Hamas have grown this week after Israel’s Shin Bet security agency announced that it had uncovered a Hamas plan to overthrow the PA in the West Bank. The Shin Bet said it had arrested more than 90 Hamas activists planning to carry out a string of attacks on Israel, foment violence on the Temple Mount and use the instability to carry out a military coup against the PA. Abbas said that the discovery “could have dangerous implications for the unity of the Palestinian people.”