Senior aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been engaged in secret talks for nearly two months in an effort to mitigate tensions in the West Bank, according to an Axios report.
The White House is said to have been updated about the “backchannel.” However, it is unclear whether all party leaders in Netanyahu’s coalition have been informed about the talks and the content discussed, sources told Axios.
Axios sources also said Palestinian Minister for Civilian Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh had previously passed a message to Netanyahu’s office through the Biden administration weeks before the swearing-in of the new Israeli government about the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to work with Netanyahu.
The reported secret talks come on the heels of the United Nations Security Council meeting Monday, where Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan called the Palestinian Authority a “monstrous propaganda campaign that poisons the minds of generations to hate and murder.”
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“They teach children from a young age that the Jewish state has no right to exist,” Erdan said. Erdan also stated the Palestinians have thus far rejected “every peace plan ever brought to the table.”
Erdan said the Palestinian Authority has not made any moves to mitigate terrorism but has instead “glorif[ied] terrorists and [paid] them money,” attributing its lack of action to combat terrorism as the main obstacle in achieving peace in the region.
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Following the meeting, Palestinian Representative to the U.N. Riyad Mansour called out Israel, saying he expects the Israeli government to “continue to violate international law,” going as far as to “force” the Security Council to take action.
“This is only one battle among so many battles that the Israeli side will impose on us,” Mansour said.
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No vote was called Monday on a draft resolution demanding Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory,” according to Reuters. Instead, the United Arab Emirates drafted a formal statement on which the 15-member council agreed upon by consensus.
The formal council statement Monday denounced Israel’s decision to expand settlements on what it said was occupied territory. The United States had previously voiced concern over the move.
The statement noted that “The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,” it continued that the “Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on February 12.”
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