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The PLO Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society normalises links under official cover

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While political relations between Palestine and Israel have officially been non-existent since the cessation of negotiations in April 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to hold periodic meetings with various Israeli officials and bodies. These meetings have provoked astonishment and anger among the Palestinians because Abbas holds many of them at the expense of his meetings with his own people. Moreover, his meetings are considered marginal because he is not seeing anyone senior or influential, and they present an inaccurate image to the international community, portraying Palestine-Israel relations as “business as usual”.

The responsibility for organising Palestine-Israel meetings lies with the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society; it is affiliated to the PLO and headed by Muhammad Al-Madani, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. The committee has been condemned in numerous campaigns by Palestinian factions calling for its dissolution because of its “normalisation” of links with Israel; its record is filled with participation in Israeli events.

The committee was established in December 2012 by the Palestinian leadership to strengthen communication with various sectors in Israeli society in order to seek a peaceful solution. In its first meeting, it agreed to send letters to Israeli parties, including the Likud Party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss political forces in Israel. It also targeted members of the Israeli Knesset from various parties to form a parliamentary lobby, as well as various groups in Israel, such as those representing Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopian Jews and Jews from Arab countries. Dialogue channels were opened for discussions with research centres and civil society organisations inside Israel because they include former senior politicians and military personnel, all of whom once played important roles in formulating official positions, decisions and policies.

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Al-Madani secured visits by Israeli delegations to Al-Muqata’a, the PA headquarters in Ramallah, where they met Abbas. He also opened communication channels with various Israeli political, cultural and partisan figures, as........

© Middle East Monitor