Interior Minister Silvan Shalom held talks with senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman in recent days, Israeli sources told The Times of Israel on Sunday. The two met in a bid to calm tensions between the two sides, which have spiraled in the past week.
Shalom, a senior Likud lawmaker, also serves as the chief Israeli negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians. He said in a recent speech at a conference that he believes Israel and the Palestinians “need to renew negotiations and try to reach understandings and agreements.”
He also said at the time that he was in favor of “frank talks that are conducted discreetly,” apparently such as those in Amman.
The official topic and outcome of the recent discussions were unclear, although the meeting was described as a “trust-building” move. It was the latest in a string of clandestine talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials since the new Israeli government was sworn in earlier this year.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have run high in the past week, following the shooting deaths of two Palestinians by Israeli forces in separate incidents on Wednesday and Thursday, and the approval of the construction of hundreds of homes in the West Bank, ending a de facto construction freeze.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to announce his resignation as head of the PA in two months’ time, Channel 1 reported. Palestinian officials told the station that the 80-year-old president’s resignation was due to “fatigue.” There was no official confirmation of the report.
On Friday, former PLO secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo attacked Abbas in an interview with al-Monitor, saying that the president was a “one-man” ruler of the West Bank. Abbas was elected in 2005, but still holds office despite the expiration of his five-year term.