Palestinian Officials are not Interested in Peace Talks with Netanyahu amid Investigations

Ramallah– The Palestinian Authority (PA) is not interested in real peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid corruption investigations, according to a senior Palestinian official.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the authority has no desire to begin the peace process with Netanyahu as long as he is being investigated. He added that it seems that things are out of his hands and it would be adventurous to enter into extensive negotiations with him.

“We don’t want the case of Olmert to repeat itself. We were on the verge of an agreement and then he resigned,” explained the official.

Few years ago, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was about to form a final agreement with former PM Ehud Olmert, but then Olmert had to resign due to corruption allegations. The deal included land swap, NATO troops deployment into the Palestinian territories and handing over the West Bank.

The PA offered the same agreement to Netanyahu, but it was rejected by the government.

US is pressuring both parties to return to negotiations, meanwhile Palestinian fear their efforts and the US efforts be lost.

The official argued that in normal conditions, it had been difficult to achieve an agreement with Netanyahu, adding: “How is it possible to achieve a historical agreement while he is being investigated?

In recent updates, Netanyahu’s former Chief of Staff Ari Harow could become a state witness in the PM’s cases of corruption and bribery.

Observers believe that Harow could provide damning evidence in at least one of the three current cases under investigation: Case 1000, involving the acceptance of gifts from a very wealthy friend, which Netanyahu and his wife denied, Case 2000, involving collusion with Yediot Aharonot to get favorable coverage; and Case 3000, involving the purchase of three submarines from Germany.

This comes amid reports that US President Donald Trump will be sending a top official delegation to the region to revive Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

A White House official said that Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner will lead the delegation to the Middle East in order to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and will be joined by Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

The official added that Trump is still committed to the peace process in the Middle East and believes it is crucial to proceed with the efforts to achieve peace.

Trump had previously stated that achieving a strong peace agreement between Palestine and Israel is mission impossible, but he is optimistic that peace can be attained.

The official added that in order for peace to be achieved, all involved parties must work together and must give negotiators the time and place needed.

Palestinians want to review and asses every agreement and set ground rules for a new agreement limited by a time table, as well as negotiations on border and ending settlements. Yet, Israel is not responding to any of those requests and that, according to observers, is making the US’s mission quite difficult.