Top US Middle East negotiators Dennis Ross and David Hale are due in Israel on
Tuesday for a final push at trying to come up with a formula that would launch
Israeli- Palestinian talks and keep the PA from taking its statehood recognition
bid to the UN in two weeks time.
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talksAbbas: Statehood bid isn’t aimed at delegitimizing
The visit is coming a day after
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israelis that the PA was
intent on going to the UN so the Palestinians could enjoy “freedom and
At about the same time, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
met with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and said “the only peace
that will be achieved will be a peace through direct negotiations. Peace cannot
be imposed from the outside and it will only come from direct negotiations
between the parties, direct negotiations without preconditions.”
Netanyahu reiterated he was prepared to begin those negotiations immediately,
and said the Palestinians have “done pretty much everything in their power to
avoid such direct negotiations, and I think this is a mistake, because I think
they need peace as much as we need it.”
Warning that going to the UN
might set back peace for years, Netanyahu said he would go anywhere and meet
Abbas, meanwhile, told the Israeli delegation he has had several
meetings recently with President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
meeting Barak on August 24 in Amman.
Though Abbas did not elaborate on
the discussions, and Barak’s spokesman would not comment on it, Channel 2
reported Barak urged the PA president to drop the UN bid, saying the
Palestinians had a lot to lose by violence in September, and it was possible to
move forward in negotiations without preconditions.
Abbas said he had no
reason to believe Netanyahu and asked for guarantees, which Barak did not
provide. Barak also reportedly urged him to refrain from “provocations” that
will lead to violence, with Abbas saying the Palestinians did not intend to
carry out any provocation.
Abbas was also quoted as telling the Israeli
group that as long as he was in power, he would see to it that security
coordination between Israel and the PA would continue. He also said Hamas was
part of the Palestinian people, and he would pursue efforts to achieve unity
among the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, US officials Ross and Hale are
expected to try to stop the Palestinians from going to the UN by pushing forward
a deal whereby Israel would agree to entering negotiations using the pre-1967
lines, with mutually agreed upon swaps, as the baseline of talks; and the
Palestinians would agree that the final goal of negotiations would be two
states, a Palestinian one and a Jewish one.
The idea behind this formula
was for each side to get something: The Palestinians would get the pre-1967
lines as the baseline, something they have long sought; and Israel would get
Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
have noted that Jerusalem, while not endorsing the pre- 1967 lines, would agree
to language that would say Israel recognized this was the position of the
The Palestinians have so far opposed the
insertion of this type of language inside the formula, saying they would return
to talks only if Israel agreed to enter them with the pre-1967 lines as the
baseline, and after freezing all construction in the settlements.
willing to bite the bullet on language on borders, if they can bite the bullet
on issues important to us,” one Israeli official said, skeptical, however, that
the most recent efforts will bear fruit.
“Our estimation is that the
chances to try to get them to come down from the tree are low,” he said. “But
the international community is working to keep the ladder up
Meanwhile, writer Sefi Rachlevsky, who was among the group that
met with Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post
that he and his colleagues went to
Ramallah to express their full support for the PA’s plan to ask the United
Nations to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines later this
“We warmly support the declaration of a Palestinian state,”
Rachlevsky said. “This is the realization of the Zionist dream when a people
declare their independence.”
Among the other members of the group who met
Abbas were Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer, former Labor MK Yael Dan, author
Yoram Kaniuk and Alon Liel, former director-general of the Foreign
Rachlevsky said the group was deeply impressed by the
“extremely moderate” views expressed by Abbas during the
Rachlevsky said the group called on the international community
and US President Barack Obama to support the statehood bid. He also voiced
support for the idea of land swaps between Israel and the future Palestinian
According to Rachlevsky, the West Bank and the Western Wall are
under occupation and should be placed under Palestinian control.
there’s a Palestinian state, Israel can always demand that certain parts of the
West Bank and the Western Wall be placed under Israeli control,” he
Another member of the group quoted Abbas as saying that when a
Palestinian state was established, peace would prevail in the region.
explained to us why the Palestinians were going to the UN later this month,” he
said. “Abbas denied the statehood plan was intended to delegitimize Israel. He
said the goal was to legitimize the Palestinian issue.”
Abbas told the
group the Palestinian state would be democratic and free “with equality between
men and women.”