Netanyahu said to have met secretly with Palestinian leaders

Former PA minister tells Knesset he and others negotiated with the prime minister, warns of violence if political process doesn’t show results

Benjamin Netanyahu, center, walking to a cabinet meeting Sunday, with Gil Shefer at right. (photo credit: Miri Tzahi/ Pool/ Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu, center, walking to a cabinet meeting Sunday, with Gil Shefer at right. (photo credit: Miri Tzahi/ Pool/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conducted secret meetings with senior Palestinian leaders in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, according to a former Palestinian Authority minister.

Former PA minister for prisoners’ affairs Ashraf al-Ajrami told the Knesset Monday that he and others, including Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas,  held direct negotiations with Netanyahu.

“We sat for many hours recently and we are waiting to hear from Netanyahu if he is ready to accept the principle of two states based on the 1967 lines… He said he would give us an answer, but we haven’t received it yet,” Ajrami said.

Netanyahu’s office denied Monday the claims of secret negotiations.

Ajrami, a vocal supporter of the Geneva Initiative who spent 12 years in Israeli prisons because of his activities during the first intifada, was speaking at a Knesset conference on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process sponsored by MK Moshe Mizrahi of the Labor Party.

Ajrami also warned that unless diplomacy began to show results, “we will go to war, with a lot of casualties. The two peoples will pay a very heavy price and in the end, we will go [back] to the political process.” He added that, in his opinion, the Palestinian Authority has “no alternative” but to return to the United Nations in an attempt to advance its cause.

Without progress in negotiations, Ajrami warned of conflict and violence, and said that “no Palestinian in the world” would give up “a centimeter of land” beyond the 1967 borders.

The Times of Israel revealed in May that Abed Rabbo held a series of meetings two years ago with the prime minister’s peace envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately met at length with Netanyahu himself, to discuss new negotiations.

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