The US has established a secret line of communication with the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership through a group of businessmen and is seeking to resolve the developing crisis surrounding the implementation of its Deal of the Century peace plan.
TPS reported earlier this month that an informal meeting was held in Ramallah between senior PA officers and officials affiliated with the US’ Republican party.
A Ramallah official told TPS that the meeting was informal, and the Palestinian side was seeking opportunities to renew relations between the PA and the US
Over the weekend, the Al Quds newspaper quoted PA officials who said that Avi Berkowitz, Assistant to President Donald Trump and Special Representative for International Negotiations, met with PA officials.
“The White House seeks to open a channel with the Authority through businessmen and break the impasse,” Al Quds reported.
The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting the Trump administration since it decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December 2017.
The newspaper confirmed TPS’s reports and stated, according to a source, that there are ongoing links between the White House and a group of Palestinian businessmen close to the PA and its political institutions, who are helping to open the channels with the Palestinian Authority.
The source, who requested anonymity, said that the current backstage dialogue was initiated by Berkowitz, who replaced Trump’s former envoy Jason Greenblatt last fall.
Berkowitz hopes that he will be able to maintain a channel with the PA through the group of businessmen and find a way out of the impasse and the escalating crisis following Israel’s plans to declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, as stipulated by the US’ Deal of the Century peace plan.
Berkowitz is reportedly examining alternatives in the form of postponing applying sovereignty in the Jordan Valley as well as applying sovereign Israeli law over Israeli communities under the principle of territorial exchange, including the exchange of territories and the transfer of Area C to Area B or A, under full PA control.
The TPS also learned that during the recent visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jerusalem in May, he met with six PA Arab public figures, including a senior official in the PA and businessmen.
Senior PA officials have criticized PA’s head Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to end all coordination with Israel and sever its relations with the US, and some have even argued that the PA should return to the negotiations table, even at the price of discussing the Deal of the Century and annexation, and some have argued that the PA’s involvement in regional security arrangements under the US should be ensured, even at the cost of accepting a limited format of the Deal of the Century.
TPS has recently reported that Fatah officials fear that Israel is working to establish an alternative leadership to Abbas in response to his decision to cut the PA’s coordination channels with Israel and abolish the PA’s commitment to the peace agreements.
Fatah has warned that Israel will try to get rid of Abbas to remove obstacles on the way to implementing the Deal of the Century.
A paper, circulated a few days ago among Fatah officials, warns of “Israeli attempts to create political and security chaos in the Palestinian territories with a view to establishing an alternative leadership for Abbas.”
According to the paper, Israel is expected to act to hurt and embarrass Palestinian security forces and tarnish the face of the Palestinian leadership to press it to accept Israeli dictates towards the application of sovereignty and in response to the severing of security relations.