Netanyahu mulling gestures to bolster Abbas
Measures being considered include authorization for second cellular network in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering goodwill gestures that would bolster the Palestinian Authority. The efforts represent an effort to help PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who suffered harsh criticism following a Palestinian decision not to press for the UN Human Rights Council's adoption of the Goldstone report on last winter's Gaza offensive.
Netanyahu is considering announcing a goodwill package during his meeting Friday with the special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
A senior political source in Jerusalem said Thursday that during the meeting of the "forum of seven" senior ministers, a number of ideas were raised on goodwill gestures that would boost Abbas.
The Prime Minister's Bureau did not deny the existence of such proposals and noted that "some ideas are in place, but there has been no decision on the matter."
Measures being considered include authorization for setting up a second cellular telephone network in the West Bank and releasing the necessary frequency for use by the PA. Last week Haaretz reported that Israel is unwilling to allow the frequencies for use by Wataniya, the PA's other cellular telephone consortium, because of Palestinian efforts to gain the indictment of Israel Defense Forces officers at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Another idea is to stop opposing a Palestinian request for building a new city near Ramallah. It is also possible that more roadblocks will be lifted and other measures will be put in place to help improve the Palestinian economy, a key goal of Netanyahu.
Mitchell met with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Thursday. Friday he will meet with Netanyahu, and over the weekend he will travel to Ramallah for talks with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
At the start of his meeting with Peres, Mitchell said the United States was making efforts to restart the negotiations between Israel and the PA in the near future. One of the aims of the goodwill gestures is to encourage the Palestinians to agree to the resumption of talks.