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WEST BANK: Big obstacles in road to direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Even before direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations kick off in Washington on Sept. 2, the road there is littered with political landmines.

The Palestinians stated when they agreed on Friday, under U.S. and international pressure, to resume direct negotiations that if Israel resumed settlement construction in the West Bank, the talks would stop.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that stance in letters he sent to leaders of the so-called quartet of international mediators involved in the Middle East peace process -- President Obama, Russian President Medvedev, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. His chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, repeated it on Monday in a press conference in Ramallah.

In these letters, according to Erekat, Abbas demanded that the international community take a strong and unequivocal position regarding Israel’s obligation to freeze all settlement activity, without exceptions, and he said that if settlements, house demolitions and evictions continued, Palestinians would not continue negotiating.

“If the government of Israel decides to submit new tenders for houses in the settlements after Sept. 26, then it has decided to shut down the door of negotiations,” Erekat said.

Sept. 26 marks the end of the 10-month freeze on new settlement construction Israel had agreed to in order to start indirect negotiations with the Palestinians.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the settlement freeze will not be extended.

Netanyahu said the talks would first focus on “real and sustainable security arrangements on the ground.” This means a demilitarized Palestinian state, a buffer in the Jordan Valley controlled by the Israeli army and control over the airspace and sea and land crossings.

He said Palestinians had to recognize Israel as “the national state of the Jewish people” and that any peace agreement should be based on an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Erekat, in the press conference, called this stance “unacceptable.”

“Netanyahu seems to have decided to go from negotiations to dictations,” he said. “There is a difference between dictations and negotiations. Netanyahu wants to decide the composition of negotiations even before they start. This is an awkward negotiating attitude.”

Erekat said the quartet statement issued in Brussels on Friday, the same day the U.S. had invited the parties to relaunch negotiations in Washington on Sept. 2, was what encouraged Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to accept the invitation for restarting direct negotiations.

The statement provided that “direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.”

It also called for “the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace as envisaged in the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative,” which for the Palestinians were the basis for the direct talks.

Israel did not accept the quartet statement and only accepted the U.S. invitation, which said negotiations would resume without preconditions.

-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank

Comments () | Archives (7)

The Palestinians do want a two state solution: Arabs victorious, Jews dead! Those are the two 'states' resulting in one peacful state. The real crime of the Arabs against the Jews is that they have changed the Jews into a kind of 'spartan' state out of self-preservation and the secularization of the Isralies is lamentable.

for to many years now my homeland has been under threat not only from the terrorists that were jealous of jewish/arab friendships,and wished to break this up with threats and violence,but from people like you ESHER HAMAN that just spout hate with no idea what they are talking about.
its to be hoped that you dont spout this badly informed view,to young people who think they need a cause to fight, (may be you are one)

In the final analysis(as if THAT were ever possible), only a single state solution is the most desirable and practical solution to this endless conflict. I was even surprised to recently read that a fair number of the settlers were open to this(because of course none of their land would get confiscated for the creation of a separate Palestinian state). Then the new "war" will be who can procreate the fastest(which presumably the Palestinians will much to the consternation of the Israelis).

The rogue Zionits aparthied
LOL - hilarious that some people actually still try and use the 'apartheid' lie about Israel.Only someone who is misinformed would claim that Israel has a color or racial problem. Israel's Black Ethiopian Jews now numbers 105,000. Another 10,000 more are soon to arrive. Unlike apartheid South Africa which wanted to expell its Indians, Israel has welcomed 60,000 Indian Jews. And more continue to arrive.

All in Israel including Circassian, Druze, Kurds, Armenians, Arabs, Beduin, and non-Jewish ARE citizens of the Jewish State - have equal rights. Gays and women can fight openly in Israel..try that in Iran and the USA

Esther Haman

Violence will solve nothing negotiations might !
More than 6 decades and you have learned nothing

I don't know what's more amazing. The phenomena of Jew haters stealing names from Jewish texts to stand as their monikers, or that the writer of this blog piece approved Esther Haman's obviously sick and twisted anti-Semitic drivel.

The rogue Zionits aparthied entity will never agree to any peace agreement. The only way for the Palestinians to gain control of their land and to be able to have an independent country of their own is to learn from the Zionists and follow their foot steps, which is violence and call to arms.

There have been many negotiations and nothing has come out of it, but death and destructions for the Palestinians. So, they need to cintinue with their resistance and they need to dial it up a nutch.

Fight the fire with fire.


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