Palestinian Authority officials have given the American administration a list of proposals that they wish to pursue to advance the diplomatic process with Israel during Joe Biden’s term as president.
The roughly 30 proposals on the list address restoring the government powers of the Palestinian Authority, improving the Palestinian economy and addressing the quality of life of individual Palestinians.
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According to a source with knowledge of the initiative, the three players involved in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy – the new Israeli government, the Biden administration and the Palestinian Authority – do not believe that at this stage it’s possible to advance the process through significant public diplomatic activity, but some of the proposed projects could be pursued “under the radar,” without attracting Palestinian or Israeli public attention.
“Everyone has an interest in maintaining a low profile,” the source said. “Not all of the proposals appearing in the document can be implemented at the present time, but even if it would be possible to advance some of the steps, at least in the civilian field, that would provide achievements to the Palestinian public and improve their day-to-day lives.”
One section of the document includes a number of civilian-sector projects – increasing the number of Israeli work permits issued to Palestinians, permitting family reunification and regulating construction in Palestinian towns and villages to accommodate natural population growth.
On the economic front, the Palestinian Authority is seeking to boost the issuance of visitors’ permits to tourism sites in areas under Palestinian Authority control and to develop new tourist projects, including religious tourism in portions of the West Bank under full Israeli control (Area C) and in the Dead Sea region.
The document suggests that the Palestinian Authority be given direct authorization to import fuel from Jordan through the construction of a fuel pipeline running from there, as well as other pipeline facilities running from ports in Israel to the Palestinian Authority. The document proposes expanding the Palestinian Authority’s capacity to export goods, the establishment of a free-trade zone within its territory and the issuance of construction permits for power plants and green energy projects.
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The proposal also details a series of steps to restore the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic standing, including the restoration of the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (without describing would that would involve), the reopening of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem that Israel had shut down and the suspension of construction in West Bank settlements (as well as in East Jerusalem). Also proposed is the evacuation of unauthorized West Bank Jewish outposts and preventing Israeli control of land in Area A (the portion of the territory under Palestinian civil and security control).
The document calls for the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel in accordance with the fourth stage of a plan already worked out by Israel and the Palestinians that was suspended in 2014. Priority would be given to older and younger prisoners as well as female prisoners. There is also a demand to expand the authority of the Palestinian police by again permitting them to carry weapons that they have not been allowed to carry in recent years.
The document submitted to the Biden administration proposes that an international airport be established in the West Bank and that Palestinian officials again be permitted to staff the Allenby Bridge border crossing point between the West Bank and Jordan. Also proposed is the return of the bodies being held by Israel of Palestinians who were killed in a variety of circumstances in clashes with Israeli security forces.