Abbas says Israel agreed in principle to reexamine economic ties
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Abbas says Israel agreed in principle to reexamine economic ties

PA president has said Palestinians want to either amend or cancel the Paris Protocol; Israeli spokespeople decline to comment

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech on August 15, 2018. (WAFA)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech on August 15, 2018. (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel has agreed in principle to hold talks with the Palestinians on the Paris Protocol.

The protocol is the annex of the Oslo Accords that defines the PA and Israel’s economic ties. The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Jewish state signed the agreement in the mid-1990s.

“They initially refused to make any amendment to it, but they now have accepted in principle to sit down [and] discuss it,” Abbas said in a short speech at the PA Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah on Sunday, referring to the agreement.

He did not say if the Palestinians and Israel had decided on a date for talks.

Asked on Monday if Israel had agreed in principle to hold talks with the Palestinians about the Paris Protocol, spokespersons for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Channel 13 news reported in late December that Israel was examining a Palestinian request to hold talks about amending the agreement, citing Israeli officials.

Manara Square in Ramallah (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Manara Square in Ramallah (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In early December, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told The Times of Israel that Majed Faraj and Hussein al-Sheikh, two senior PA officials, informed then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman late last year that the Palestinians want to review the Paris Protocol with Israel.

Ahmad said Liberman never responded to the two PA officials before he resigned as defense minister in mid-November

In two recent speeches, Abbas said the Palestinians want to either amend or cancel the Paris Protocol.

While he has not stated specifically in his speeches what the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership would like to change in the agreement, he has referred to the recent recommendations of the Palestinian Central Council, a Palestine Liberation Organization body, which called on the Palestinians “to disengage” from their economic dependence on Israel.

The Palestinian economy relies heavily on its relationship with Israel.

Fifty-nine percent of Palestinian imports come from Israel, and 81% of Palestinian exports go to the Jewish state, according the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

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