Another attempt to strengthen the PA 

The US is initiating a security meeting to be held soon in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss the security and economic strengthening of the PA. Israel and the PA are conducting secret talks on the possibility of operating the "Marin" natural gas reservoir off the coast of the Gaza Strip to improve the PA's income, the Hamas movement is preparing to torpedo the plan.




The US opened talks with Israel and the PA to convene another security meeting soon in Sharm el-Sheikh with the participation of Egypt and Jordan to try and strengthen the power of the PA.

So far, two such meetings have taken place in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh in preparation for the month of Ramadan. PA sources claim that the PA fulfilled its security obligations and worked during this period to calm the area.

According to them, it began to act against the armed groups in the northern West Bank by collecting intelligence on their operations and trying to convince their members to turn themselves in to the PA’s security mechanisms and hand over their weapons to them.

The PA is supposed to present its security operations to the participants of the security meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, but it seems that it had only a few successes.

The PA’s security mechanisms clashed last week in the city of Jenin with a group of armed men from the “Janin Battalion” who were trying to hold a protest procession over the death of the senior Islamic Jihad leader Hader Adnan who died in an Israeli prison.

The PA is trying to prove that it is working against the armed terrorist groups in the northern West Bank in order to convince Israel not to launch a major military operation against these groups.

Senior security officials in Israel say that the PA has lost security control in northern Samaria and that although the security coordination between Israel and the PA continues, the PA is not fighting against terrorism and the Chairman of the PA is not prepared for a frontal confrontation between the Palestinian security forces and the armed terrorist groups for fear that this would lead to a civil war.

It seems that the PA is ready to do everything to maintain its symbolic rule in the West Bank to avoid shocks that would topple the rule of Mahmoud Abbas, therefore it also puts up with the establishment of new armed terrorist groups.

 At the end of last week, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad announced the establishment of a new terrorist group called the “Jalazon Battalion” operating in the Jalazon refugee camp north of Ramallah.

It seems that the armed groups are gaining strength and spreading from the north of the West Bank to the south without the PA doing anything to stop the phenomenon.

The IDF will have to take care of this phenomenon itself, the  Israeli security establishment is now considering the possibility of launching an extensive military operation against the armed terrorist groups in Samaria, the IDF is also considering establishing a new division that will operate in the West Bank against the new terrorist groups.

According to senior political officials in Jerusalem, secret negotiations are underway with the PA with the knowledge of the US and Egypt, about the extraction of natural gas from the gas field off the coast of Gaza called the “Marin” field.


The contacts are being made with the approval of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Galant and the issue has already been discussed at the security meetings held in Aqaba and Sharm Al-Sheikh.

The person leading the talks from the Israeli side is Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of the National Security Council, together with Major General Rasan Alian, the coordinator of operations in the territories.

Israel’s intention is to improve the PA’s economic situation through this program, assuming that this will also affect the security situation in the longer term.

In order to overcome legal problems and bypass the opposition of Hamas, the idea is that the production of natural gas will be done under the auspices of Egypt.

However, senior security officials estimate that the Hamas movement will not allow this project to come to fruition and will not allow it to be developed, Hamas is the sovereign in the Gaza Strip and will not give up such a large financial source of income from the “Marin” gas reservoir.

Hamas officials say that they will not allow this project to run because the natural gas in the “Marin” reservoir belongs to the Gaza Strip and its residents and not to the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

The military wing of Hamas has enough military power to torpedo this project and it cannot be carried out without the consent of Hamas.

As far as Israel is concerned, there is great difficulty in trying to implement this project as long as Hamas holds the four Israeli captives in Gaza Strip.

In any case, this issue will be discussed in the defense cabinet if the prime minister and the defense minister decide to try and advance the project.


Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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