By: Aryeh Savir and Baruch Yedid, TPS
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met on Sunday night with Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister Hussein A-Sheikh, the minister of Civil Affairs and a Member of the Fatah Central Committee.
A-Sheikh stated on Twitter that the two “discussed several political and bilateral issues,” and he “highlighted the need for a political horizon between the two parties based on international legitimacy.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry told TPS that “we do not comment about meetings.” TPS has learned that the meeting took place in Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was reportedly informed in advance of the meeting, as was Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
A very senior PA official told TPS after the meeting that he estimates that the PA and Israel are “preparing to resume the political process.”
A-Sheikh further stated that the PA will be “announcing 500 new names for Palestinian Families that have received Palestinian IDs.”
Israel has recently green-lighted status approvals “on a humanitarian basis” for 6,000 Arab residents of Judea and Samaria in the PA’s Population Registry, and an additional status approval for 3,500 Gaza residents.
This means that Israel has officially recognized the legal status of these Arabs, after making a similar concession for 4,000 in October. Such registration enables them a recognized legal status, the ability to obtain work permits, travel, and perform other legal-related tasks.
This meeting between Lapid and A-Sheikh is the latest in several that took place between senior Israeli and PA officials.
Gantz hosted PA President Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin at the end of December for “a discussion on several security and civilian topics.”
According to a statement by the Defense Ministry, Gantz informed Abbas of “his intention to continue advancing confidence-building measures in economic and civilian areas, as was determined in their previous meeting.”
A-Sheikh, who was present at this meeting as well, stated that the meeting “dealt with the importance of creating a political horizon that leads to a political solution in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions, as well as the regional tensions due to the practices of settlers, and the meeting dealt with many security, economic and humanitarian issues.”
A-Sheikh and Faraj are the closest officials to Abbas and are leading candidates to succeed him, and A-Sheikh himself was appointed a few days ago to the post of secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee.
A few weeks ago, Lapid also met with the head of PA intelligence Majd Faraj.