Abbas issues new demands of Israel, but is quietly still arresting terror suspects
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Abbas issues new demands of Israel, but is quietly still arresting terror suspects

While formally maintaining freeze in security cooperation, PA nabs relatives of assailant shot dead trying to stab soldiers

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Members of the Palestinian Authority security forces take part in a graduation ceremony for a Palestinian youth training camp in the West Bank city of Jericho, January 25, 2017. (Flash90)
Members of the Palestinian Authority security forces take part in a graduation ceremony for a Palestinian youth training camp in the West Bank city of Jericho, January 25, 2017. (Flash90)

Despite the Palestinian Authority’s formal insistence that security coordination with Israel remains frozen, PA forces earlier this week arrested two relatives of an assailant who attempted to stab IDF soldiers and was shot dead.

The uncle and cousin of Abdullah Takaatka were detained outside Bethlehem in the aftermath of his July 28 attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, Palestinian sources said.

PA security forces have also recently arrested several Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, according to reports on Palestinian social media.

This activity is taking place despite the formal position set out by PA officials that its security coordination with Israel remains on hold in the wake of the Temple Mount tensions last month. PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced a freeze in all contacts with Israel on July 21.

Abbas’s adviser Mahmoud al-Habash said in a Thursday morning interview with the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the PA had a number of conditions Israel needed to meet in order for the security coordination to resume.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 25, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 25, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Among these demands, al-Habash said, are that Israel cease all activity in the PA-controlled Area A of the West Bank, that free movement of Palestinian civilians be ensured without restrictions, and that PA sovereignty at border crossings be respected. In the context of that last demand, the PA is demanding that its forces be present at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, as it says was agreed in accords with Israel.

Abbas suspended the coordination to protest the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount, which were placed after three Israeli Arab gunmen killed two police officers outside the compound on July 14 with guns they had smuggled into the site.

The new security measures sparked mass protests by Muslim worshipers, who boycotted the compound for 12 days until Israel removed the measures on July 25.

Speaking with The Times of Israel on July 29, a senior Palestinian official praised the Israeli government decision to remove the security measures and said that the coordination would gradually increase as long as Muslim access to the Temple Mount remained unrestricted.

Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Also that day, The Times of Israel learned the PA has continued to make arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank.

A Fatah official confirmed that arrests of Hamas members were ongoing, but said apart from “critical matters,” security coordination with Israel had not yet resumed.

The PA’s head of preventative security in the West Bank, Ziyad Hab al-Rih, also confirmed the arrests, saying the Hamas operatives were planning attacks in an effort to escalate tensions between Israel and Palestinians.

Rih said a number of Hamas activists were arrested that week in Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Ramallah and at Hebron’s Polytechnic University.

The security cooperation between Israel and the PA, in place for years despite near-frozen diplomatic ties, is seen as critical for both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah faction to keep a lid on violence in the West Bank, particularly from the Hamas terror group.

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