Israel preparing gestures to Abbas ahead of Obama visit

Photo: Israel preparing gestures to Abbas ahead of Obama visit / Arab World

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may transfer small areas of the occupied West Bank to the Palestinian Authority as a goodwill gesture, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

The Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported that the gestures, timed ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit in late March, include transferring areas of Area C in the West Bank to Palestinian control.

This includes offering authority over two West Bank access roads, one leading to Tulkarem and another to the Rawabi development site, according to the report.

Other gestures include "legalizing" Palestinian villages under threat of demolition, releasing Fatah prisoners held since before Oslo, and dropping a long-term ban on certain weaponry needed by PA security forces.

PA official: Israel to reduce Area A incursions

Meanwhile a senior Palestinian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss arrangements before Obama's trip, told Ma'an that other gestures were likely as the date comes closer.

Among them are a commitment to end incursions into Area A, allow more PA access in Area B, and allow the PA to support projects in Area C. The increased Palestinian involvement in Area C effectively reduces Israeli control, the official said, while Israel is not officially handing areas over.

The official also said Obama was unlikely to offer any major new initiatives, but viewed the trip as a sign that relations were improving between the PA and the United States.

On Monday new US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia. Part of Kerry's trip to the region includes requesting support for the PA's budget, according to the official.

Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency