PM refuses to reveal his ‘final borders’ map

Netanyahu unwilling to discuss borders without clarifying security issues; senior US officials return to Washington without answers.

Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap (photo credit: Associated Press)
Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Two senior US officials returned to Washington on Wednesday without prying out of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu his map of a future Palestinian state, something both the Obama administration and the Palestinians are keen on receiving.
US National Security Council senior Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro and David Hale, a top adviser to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, met Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho in Jerusalem on Monday, and the Palestinian Authority’s top negotiator Saeb Erekat in Ramallah on Tuesday.
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Their visit followed quickly on the heels of a visit late last week by US President Barack Obama’s adviser Dennis Ross.
One Israeli official said that while Netanyahu is not opposed to discussing borders, he is unwilling to do so in a vacuum “without first having a clear understanding of security issues, and the character of a future Palestinian state.”
Before discussing a map of a future state of Palestine, the official said, Netanyahu wants to “first discuss the security map.”
Netanyahu has said that in any future agreement Israel would have to retain a security presence on the Jordan River, and – according to a recent Newsweek story – has told the Palestinians he also wants Israeli troops stationed along territory on the Palestinian side of the security barrier to protect the country’s “narrow waistline.”
The official said it is impossible to discuss the contours of a border without first knowing whether a future Palestinian state “will be demilitarized, and how that will be achieved.”
It is also necessary first to see whether this state will recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state and whether it will consider that an agreement with Israel will put an end to the conflict, “with no more demands,” the official said.
The prime minister’s position is that borders cannot be discussed isolated from other issues.
Both US and Israeli officials said there was unlikely to be much US activity in the area for the next week, until after New Year’s Day.
In a related development, Foreign Ministry officials said the apparent willingness of some countries to upgrade the level of the PA delegation in their countries, a move taken by Norway last week, and by France, Spain and the US in recent months, was an effort to give the PA something, even though the diplomatic process was stymied.
France and Spain both upgraded the status of the Palestinian representation in their capitals to mission status over the last three months, and the US upgraded the PLO’s presence in Washington to “delegation general” earlier in the year.
The Foreign Ministry, according to one diplomatic source, is concerned that a number of other European countries will now follow this move as a way of “winking” toward the Palestinians, even though they will not recognize a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood along the pre-1967 lines.
While the upgrade of the delegations has no practical significance – the Palestinians already have full embassies in dozens of countries around the world – it does have declarative value for the Palestinians, the diplomatic source said.
Israel has conveyed the message to capitals abroad that it feels giving the Palestinians a “prize” at this time sends them the wrong message that they will somehow be able to establish a state without directly engaging with Israel.