...President Abbas dithered for more than nine months of the initial ten month moratorium period before deigning to enter into direct negotiations with Israel. He demanded then what [PA negotiator Nabil ] Shaath is now recycling - a total building freeze. It proved - and will continue to prove - to be a disastrous error of judgment by the PA. Abbas can only blame himself for the dilemma he currently faces as to whether to resume negotiations or not in view of the expiry of the moratorium period on 26 September.
Assuming however that some compromise is eventually agreed on for a further moratorium - questions must be asked and answers given as to the basis on which such negotiations are to be resumed.
Israel’s position is clear but the PA‘s position is steeped in uncertainty.
The parameters under which Israel has been negotiating are:
1.The Bush Roadmap - subject to Israel‘s 14 expressed written Reservations to it
2.United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and
3.The letter from President George Bush to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004
Roadmap references to the Saudi Peace Plan - adopted subsequently as the Arab Initiative - were expressly rejected by Israel as playing any part in the negotiating process - the Reservations stating:
"The removal of references other than 242 and 338 (1397, the Saudi Initiative and the Arab Initiative adopted in Beirut). A settlement based upon the road map will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity therefrom. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement."Israel was also adamant in its Reservations that :
“… declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.”
...America did indeed pay serious attention to Israel’s Reservations - as was indicated in the letter President Bush gave to Prime Minister Sharon on 14 April 2004 which stated:
“The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.
The PA has consistently refused to accept these parameters as defining the goals of the negotiating process.
On 27 November 2007 Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert once again clarified these parameters at Annapolis before the leaders of the international community assembled there when he said:
The PA clearly is not negotiating on the same wavelength as Israel as it continues to:.
•Demand the right for millions of Arabs to emigrate to Israel
•Refuses to accept the right of any Jews to live in the West Bank
•Attempts to introduce the Saudi Peace Plan into the negotiations
•Refuses to recognise Israel as the national state of the Jewish people
•Refuses to accept Israel’s Reservations to the Road Map as having any relevance
Israel and the PA have each been playing the negotiating game under different sets of rules. Until they start to play the game under the same rules - any further talks will - like the talks held since 2003 - prove to be a complete waste of time.
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”