Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are holding “secret” talks with the intention of preventing the Palestinian-planned “Great March of Return” later this week, Israel Hayom revealed yesterday. The event is scheduled to commemorate Land Day as well as the Nakba (Catastrophe) of the founding of the State of Israel on Palestinian land. The US is planning to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s “independence”.
The Israeli newspaper pointed out the shared concerns that the march may turn violent and spark turmoil across the entire region. A senior Palestinian security source, the newspaper added, told the London-based Saudi website Elaph that several secret meetings have been held between security officials from Israel, Jordan and the PA. Another PA security source added that the last meeting, which was held in an Israeli army base in the occupied West Bank, was attended by Egyptian security officials. The source added that further meetings are planned.
Israel Hayom also noted that the PA has raised concerns that the Gaza march could spread violence across the West Bank, while Jordan is worried that riots in the West Bank could spill over onto its own territory. Egypt, it is said, fears losing control at the border with Gaza while tens of thousands of Palestinians are heading towards Israel, which could involve some Palestinians breaching the border.
Palestinian security forces have apparently been instructed to allow solidarity protests in the West Bank, but were ordered to prevent them from reaching Israeli checkpoints and clashing with the occupation forces.
“While the diplomatic discord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has made it hard for them to trust each other,” a senior PA official said, “security coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian security forces remains professional.”
The Israeli occupation forces have been reinforcing their presence on the border with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in preparation for the Palestinian protests. The IDF has also deployed heavy machinery and snipers along the border. Soldiers will be backed up by police and border police officers.
Early this week, Palestinian national and Islamic movements announced that an “unprecedented” protest dubbed the “Great March of Return” is set to leave the Rafah Border Crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip on 31 March and head north towards the border with Israel. The Israelis have dropped thousands of leaflets across Gaza, warning residents against approaching the border.