Thursday, October 8, 2009

Netanyahu mulling gestures to bolster Abbas - to announce by meeting with Mitchell

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering goodwill gestures that would bolster the Palestinian Authority. The efforts represent an effort to help PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who suffered harsh criticism following a Palestinian decision not to press for the UN Human Rights Council's adoption of the Goldstone report on last winter's Gaza offensive.

Netanyahu is considering announcing a goodwill package during his meeting Friday with the special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.

A senior political source in Jerusalem said Thursday that during the meeting of the "forum of seven" senior ministers, a number of ideas were raised on goodwill gestures that would boost Abbas.

The Prime Minister's Bureau did not deny the existence of such proposals and noted that "some ideas are in place, but there has been no decision on the matter."

Measures being considered include authorization for setting up a second cellular telephone network in the West Bank and releasing the necessary frequency for use by the PA. Last week Haaretz reported that Israel is unwilling to allow the frequencies for use by Wataniya, the PA's other cellular telephone consortium, because of Palestinian efforts to gain the indictment of Israel Defense Forces officers at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Another idea is to stop opposing a Palestinian request for building a new city near Ramallah. It is also possible that more roadblocks will be lifted and other measures will be put in place to help improve the Palestinian economy, a key goal of Netanyahu.