'Hamas storing arms in West Bank.' Abbas
Photo: AFP
Palestinian official: Israel avoiding negotiations
Senior PA source says Israel trying to stall peace talks by focusing on security issue; claims US has made it clear that it will not allow any 'foot-dragging.' Abbas admits Hamas smuggling large amounts of weapons to West Bank

"The Americans' biggest test will be to foil the Israeli government's evasion tactics in the coming days and weeks," a senior Palestinian Authority official told Ynet Thursday.


According to him, both the Americans and Palestinians understand that Israel will focus as much as possible on "avoiding the negotiations and hindering their progress."


"The Israelis will make every effort to obstruct the process, and recent Israeli statements according to which the security issue will be key are the first indication of attempts to end the negotiations before they have even begun," said the Palestinian official.


"The Americans realize that we are going to great lengths to maintain order and stability in the territories. The Israelis have acknowledged this on several occasions, so any talk of security is meant to break down the negotiations over this or that checkpoint," he said.


According to the PA official, the security issue must be linked to the negotiations on the borders of a future Palestinian state.


He said that while the Americans realize that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have much leeway within his rightist coalition, they have stressed that political ideology cannot hinder negotiations which may affect an entire region, as well as US interests.


However, the Palestinians do not expect Washington to force on Israel a definite timetable for the conclusion of the negotiations. "The US has also made it clear that it will not allow any Israeli foot-dragging. They are determined to resume negotiations that will tackle the real issues, and have reiterated their commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as soon as possible," said the official.


Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Hamas is smuggling large amounts of weapons to the West Bank.


During a special interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper in China he noted, "What they're unfortunately doing is smuggling weapons and explosives and stocking them in the West Bank."


Abbas added, "Each day we get our hands on weapons caches. These are large amounts." 


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