Peace talks wait to see if Hamas, Fatah unite

Diplomatic source: PA documents demand 98.1% of West Bank territory, describe internal security plans.

February 20, 2012 06:53
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas

Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)


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The Israeli-Palestinian talks held in Jordan last month ended without progress, and now Jerusalem is waiting to see whether the Hamas-Fatah agreement signed in Doha will fall through before deciding what to do next, an Israeli diplomatic source said Sunday.

The source said Israel was optimistic last month that progress could be made in the low-level Jordanian sponsored talks, and began preparing a package of economic steps to be given to the Palestinian Authority to keep it at the table. That all ended, the source noted, when President Mahmoud Abbas signed a unity agreement with Hamas head Khaled Mashaal in Doha.

Israel would not deal with a PA government under Hamas’s sway, even if the ministers in a Palestinian unity government were “technocrats” and not Hamas members, the source said. Israel expected that with the breakdown of the Jordan talks, the PA would take its statehood recognition efforts back to the UN in a matter of weeks, the source added.

The Palestinians spelled out their territorial demands to Israel: 98.1 percent of the West Bank, something that would mean that the large settlement blocs would not remain under Israeli control, according to the source.

The PA presented Israel with their documents – one dealing with territory, and another with security – at the first meeting on January 4. According to the source, the Palestinian security document did not deal with Israel’s security demands, but rather discussed how the Palestinians envisioned their own internal security in their state.

The source termed the Palestinian positions – both on security and territory – as “nonstarters.”

Israel did not provide the Palestinians with a territorial counter-offer, beyond saying that it was guided by the following principle: Most of the Jews currently living in Judea and Samaria would come under Israeli control, while most of the Palestinians there would end up in a Palestinian state. Another guiding principle that Israel presented was: the issue of Jerusalem should be left to the end and dealt with separately because it is so complicated.

At the second of the four meetings, Israel asked the Palestinians 19 questions regarding the Palestinian positions, including what – in their thinking – was to happen to the Jews living in the West Bank, and whether they would be uprooted or become citizens of a future Palestinians state. Another question was what would happen if Fatah and Hamas sign an agreement.

The Palestinians did not answer the first question, and regarding the second, said the PA would create a strong democracy, the source said.

As to Jerusalem’s demand that Israel retain a presence in the Jordan Valley, the Palestinians, according to the source, said they would not allow an Israeli presence anywhere.

The source added that while the idea of the talks in Jordan was to generate a positive dynamic and create confidence, the positions put forth by the Palestinians “harmed confidence,” and that no Israeli government could “accept them.”

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