Saturday, January 09, 2010

'Borders first' won't work...

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 5, 2010, by Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh: has been widely reported that the issue of permanent borders would be the first one tackled in future Israeli-Palestinian talks - the idea being that once they are decided on, the contentious issues regarding settlement building would dissolve, and Israel would clearly be able to build in the settlements that would fall inside the negotiated border.

There have been reports of a US interest in solving the border issue within the next nine months, before the end of the construction moratorium in the settlements, so it would be clear afterward where Israel could and could not build.

But the problem with that approach, according to a senior official in Jerusalem, is that it would mean Israel relinquishing land and settlements without getting anything in return, and then having to begin discussing the more difficult issues of Jerusalem, refugees and the demilitarization of a future Palestinian state.

"In this case you give up territorial assets, and what have you done?" asked the official. "You haven't ended the conflict, and haven't dealt with refugees or Jerusalem. This idea is a nonstarter for all the ministers, from Left or Right."

The official said that from Jerusalem's point of view, the idea that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed must be the guiding principle in future talks, just as it has been in previous rounds.

Netanyahu ...said at the Likud faction meeting on Monday  ...that Palestinian preconditions for talks had wasted precious time that could have been spent negotiating a real agreement, rather than a framework for talks.

"I believe that negotiations about the nature of negotiations have delayed the process enough and should be dropped," the prime minister said.

He said it was obvious that each side would be free to raise its positions around the negotiating table. But, he said, Israel insisted that the results of the negotiations be determined in talks at the end of the process, and certainly not by preconditions at the very beginning.

....Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman meanwhile met on Monday with visiting Quartet envoy Tony Blair and said that it was important to hold a "frank dialogue" with the Palestinians, without creating any illusions that would only cause more frustration and lead to violence.

Lieberman said it was unrealistic to solve the border issue in nine months, and - as the Palestinians are demanding - to set a two-year deadline for reaching a final agreement.

According to a statement put out by his office, Lieberman said that what was needed was to start direct talks without committing to a deadline.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who is the only resident of Judea and Samaria among the Likud ministers, said he warned Netanyahu on Sunday against going too far to bring about negotiations with the Palestinians. He said that he and other Likud MKs were "getting ready to fight" against diplomatic concessions, just in case.

MK Danny Danon intended to criticize Netanyahu on diplomatic issues in Monday's Likud faction meeting ...
Danon ...warned security cabinet ministers in meetings on Monday that "Netanyahu will end up leading us back to pre-1967 borders."
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