An Israeli official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party, Likud, has met with a senior PLO official and close aide of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly to mobilise support for the Israeli leader, local media revealed yesterday.
MK Fateen Mulla told Yedioth Ahronoth that he held talks with the PLO's Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society headed by senior Abbas aide Mohammad Al-Madani.
The meeting, according to the Israeli daily, was about the possibility of encouraging Arab Israelis to back Netanyahu in the coming elections due in March.
Palestinian sources in the West Bank also revealed that there had been contacts with the Likud in the past few weeks over "quiet support" for Netanyahu in the elections.
This support, the Times of Israel reported, came after PA analysts had come to the realisation that the coming elections would be a competition between right winger Netanyahu and the more hawkish right winger Gideon Sa'ar.
According to sources reported by the media, the discussions between Mulla and Madani concentrated on drumming up support for Likud among Arab Israeli voters, or alternatively, encouraging them not to vote for the Arab majority bloc, the Joint List.
"We are trying to do good for Israel and the Middle East," Madani told Yedioth. "I can't go into more details than that." The Joint List, he said, "does not represent the Palestinian people."
In a statement reported by Wafa, the PLO confirmed the meeting took place saying: "We have repeatedly seen in the various Israeli election campaigns many manifestations of Israelis defaming their opponents and in every time they involve the Palestinians in their campaign."
Taking to Twitter, Sa'ar responded: "Netanyahu's attempt to involve PLO figures in the Israeli election is a new low. Netanyahu has no red lines. Time and again he proves that he has only personal interests, which outweigh the national interest."
Yamina MK Matan Kahana also said, according to the Times of Israel, the reported cooperation with Abbas's PA is "a step too far taken by Likud under Netanyahu."
"A secret election agreement" with Abbas is "a dangerous precedent," Kahana tweeted.