[Freemanlist2] Lerner Comentary +Indirect talks will cover core issues -TOVAH LAZAROFF, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER AND KHALED

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Sun May 2 14:21:06 CDT 2010

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[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

What does it mean that the indirect talks will cover core issues - this at 
the same time that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the core 
issues will be resolved in direct talks?

Possibility A:  The indirect talks focus on defining the parameters of the 
core issues rather than resolving them.  For example, in the case of the 
"refugee" issue there would be a discussion of how one defines a "refugee" - 
something that in and of itself is hardly a minor issue given that one 
normally defines a refugee as someone who himself left a geographical area 
as of a certain time and had a certain status in that geographical area at 
the time he left.  In contrast we have Palestinians claiming that if one of 
someone's 8 great grandfathers was present in Mandatory Palestine for any 
period of time under any circumstance  then the person qualifies as a 
refugee. Defining what "Jerusalem" is no less complicated.  And there's more 
on the list.

Defining the parameters while important, can be pretty monotonous.  It can 
be boringly technical and thus a challenge for both media coverage and overt 
third party pressure.

It would take more than four months to resolve the above definitional issues 
even if there was 100% good faith negotiations between the parties.

Possibility B:  Some idiot presents a working paper that, instead of 
discussing the definition of parameters actually presents Israel's opening 
positions.  And "idiot" is a generous term.  Because once the ball is in 
play everybody and his brother will present counter proposals.  It doesn't 
take a crystal ball to predict this one.  Various organizations are already 
putting their foreign funding to work in the preparation and promotion of 
counter proposals in media events and other actions planned to coincide with 
the talks.

So which will it be?

Will we be smart or stupid?


Indirect talks will cover core issues
02/05/2010 02:49

Arab League endorses process; Mitchell returns early this week.

Israel has agreed to discuss all core issues, including Jerusalem and 
refugees, when the proximity talks begin this week, a government official 
told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.

As he spoke, the Arab League met in Cairo and endorsed the talks.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the Arab League’s support.

Already on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the 
launch of the indirect talks.

She expressed the hope that this would soon lead to direct negotiations, 
where the final-status issues dividing the two sides would be worked out.

US special envoy George Mitchell is expected to return to Israel early this 
week, possibly on Monday, so that he can mediate the indirect talks.

An Israeli official said, “We are willing to discuss the core issues in the 
framework of the proximity talks, but it has to be only a preliminary 
discussion of the core issues.”

These issues, which also include borders, a demilitarized Palestinian state 
and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, can only be resolved through 
direct talks, the official added.

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday briefed Arab League foreign ministers 
on the outcome of US efforts to relaunch peace talks with Israel.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said last week he wanted to engage in indirect 
talks but needed the Arab League to support the process.

The meeting was chaired by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasem 
al-Thani and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

It was attended by representatives of Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, 
Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, 
Algeria and Sudan, in addition to the PA and Qatar.

A PA official in Ramallah said that PA negotiator Saeb Erekat presented the 
Arab representatives with a detailed report on the results of Mitchell’s 
trip to the region last weekend.

The official told the Post that the PA was satisfied with “assurances” it 
received from the US administration regarding construction of new homes in 
Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

“I think we should give the US another chance to resume the peace process,” 
the official said, adding that Washington has adopted a “positive” approach 
toward Palestinian demands. He said that there was no reason now why the 
Arab League should not back the PA’s decision to resume the peace talks with 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters Saturday in Shanghai, 
China, that the Palestinians' executive committee will meet soon to make a 
final decision on resuming talks.

He also confirmed reports that he will visit Washington later this month for 
talks with U.S. officials "to push the peace process forward."

The PA halted direct talks with Israel in December 2008, to protest the IDF’s 
Operation Cast Lead offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

After Netanyahu took office in March 2009, the PA said it wouldn’t resume 
the negotiations until Israel halted all Jewish construction in West Bank 
settlements and east Jerusalem.

Israel has said it plans to continue building in east Jerusalem. It did, 
however, declare a 10-month moratorium in late November on new housing 
starts in the West Bank settlements.

To break the impasse, the PA in March agreed to indirect talks, but called 
them off almost immediately when – during a visit by US Vice President Joe 
Biden – the Interior Ministry advanced a plan to build 1,600 homes in the 
east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

The PA has since insisted that Israel must halt construction in east 
Jerusalem as a precondition for such talks and the West Bank.

On Saturday night Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters that 
Israel must halt settlement activity if it wants the talks to proceed.

“If Israel builds one house in the West Bank, Palestinians will immediately 
stop the negotiations,” he said.

Netanyahu’s spokesman Nir Hefetz said that the prime minister has said many 
times that he wants to renew peaces talks with the Palestinians “any time, 
any place.”

He added, “that this must be done without any pre-conditions as it has for 
the last 16 years.”

The prime minister’s position has not changed in this regard, said Hefetz.

The start of proximity talks this week would mark the first time, since late 
2008 that any movement has been made in the peace process.

An Israeli government official told the Post that the US was committed to 
solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations between the 
parties, and not through an international summit or by asking the UN 
Security Council to set the borders of a Palestinian state.

“The only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations between the 
two parties, everything else is an illusion,” the official said. “The goal 
is preliminary talks that will lead to direct talks.”

It is hoped that once the proximity talks are underway, the Palestinians 
will focus their energies on a negotiated solution.

“We have seen in the last few months a Palestinian strategy to avoid 
negotiations and to to go places like the UN where they have an automatic 
majority and can force concession from Israel without having to make any of 
their own, the official said.

“Now that the diplomatic process is starting, we hope we will see an end to 
that,” the official continued.

In Washington on Friday, Clinton declined to comment on reports that US 
President Barack Obama had sent Abbas a letter extending guarantees on 
American positions or on assistance in achieving a Palestinian state within 
two years.

In advance of the proximity talks, Netanyahu plans to head to Sharm e-Sheikh 
on Monday to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

It is Netanyahu’s fourth visit to Egypt since taking office.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has great respect for President Mubarak and his 
political experience. Now that we are restarting the [peace] process, he 
wanted to consult with the Egyptian leader as to how we can move this 
process forward in a successful way,” an Israeli government official said.

On Thursday, in an appearance before the American Jewish Committee in 
Washington, Clinton urged Arab states to do more to help the parties move 
toward negotiations and peace.

“We will continue to emphasize the responsibilities of Israelis and 
Palestinians, who must ultimately themselves negotiate a two-state solution. 
But there are also clear expectations of the Arab states,” she said on 
Thursday night.

She called on the Arab countries to support Abbas in negotiating with 
Israel, in providing assistance with the two-year development plans the PA 
is pursuing, and to make gestures of normalization toward Israel. The latter 
demand was emphasized last year but in recent months dropped out of focus 
until Clinton’s speech last week.

She also stressed the importance of Arab states stopping weapons from 
getting into the hands of terrorist groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas.

“Every rocket smuggled into southern Lebanon or Gaza sets back the cause of 
peace,” she declared.

Clinton noted that the terrorist organizations are growing in capability, 
saying, “They have stockpiled tens of thousands of increasingly 
sophisticated rockets in Gaza and southern Lebanon – rockets they aim at 
Israeli homes and civilians.”

And she noted Syria’s role in supplying these arms, something she 
strenuously condemned.

“[Syrian] President [Bashar] Assad is making decisions that could mean war 
or peace for the region,” she warned, before arguing that the dangers in the 
region added to the need for a US ambassador in Damascus.

Many critics argue that sending an ambassador would reward Syria and are 
calling for the Senate to hold up the confirmation of the administration’s 

But Clinton countered, “We know he’s [Assad’s] hearing from Iran, Hizbullah 
and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the 
potential consequences of his actions are clear. That’s why we are sending 
an ambassador back to Syria.”

AP contributed to this report. 

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il
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