Report: Likud Held Secret Talks With Palestinians for Support in Elections

YERUSHALAYIM -
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Issam Rimawi, Pool; AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Likud initiated secret talks with the Palestinian Authority ahead of the upcoming election, Yediot Acharanot reported Monday morning, quoting Palestinian sources.

According to the sources, the talks with PA officials were initiated in an effort to encourage Israeli Arabs to vote for the Likud or abstain from voting for the Joint List of Arab parties.

The Likud was represented by Druze politician Fateen Mulla, who currently serves as the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, while the Palestinian side was represented by senior Fatah official and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s confidant Muhammad Madani.

The talks were held in light of growing Palestinian fear of right-wing leaders Gideon Saar and Naftali Bennett, who appeared to have formed a front against Netanyahu. Palestinians apparently view Saar and Bennett as “radical right,” who they believe would work to expand the Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron and partially annex the area, if elected.

Sources said the talks were set to culminate in an in-person meeting between the parties in Ramallah following an invitation from the Palestinian side. However, the meeting was not approved by the Israeli side due to security reasons. The Palestinian side was apparently offended by the refusal of the Israelis and has since halted the talks.

Although Mulla confirmed the talks, he claimed they were held “on a low flame.” He also added that the Joint List faction “does not represent the Palestinian people, and those who understand will understand.”

The Likud party called the report “absolute nonsense,” claiming the PA backs Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party in the elections.

Saar’s New Hope party said: “Netanyahu’s attempt to get PLO members to intervene in the Israeli elections is a new low. Netanyahu has no red lines. Time and time again he proves that for him, there are only personal interests, which outweigh the national ones. He is no longer fit to serve as Israeli prime minister.”