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5 - Leaked maps show gaps in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

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5 - Leaked maps show gaps in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Powered By Docstoc
					28 January - 4 February 2011                                                                                                                    SA JEWISH REPORT   5


Leaked maps show gaps in                                                                           In fact, the gap is broader than expected,
                                                                                                and helps explain why PA President
                                                                                                Mahmoud Abbas turned down Olmert’s

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations                                                                offer in mid-2008. Olmert refused to give
                                                                                                Abbas the map, so Abbas scribbled it down
                                                                                                on a paper, and it became known as a “nap-
RON KAMPEAS                                      says in an exchange from the January 27,       kin map”, which is what Al Jazeera pub-
WASHINGTON                                       2008 meeting between herself and Qureia in     lished this week.
                                                 Jerusalem.                                        Another “everybody knows” myth shat-
THIS TIME there are maps — not that they            Qureia responds, referring to Maaleh        tered by the leaks is the notion that the
necessarily will help.                           Adumim and Givet Zeev, large West Bank         Palestinians would accept as swaps Negev
   After the collapse of the Camp David          Jewish settlements that serve as bedroom       desert lands adjacent to the Gaza Strip. In
talks in 2000, the Israeli and Palestinian       communities for Jerusalem, “I can’t accept     the leaked documents, the Palestinians scoff
sides bickered about who had offered what,       Maaaleh Adumim settlement as a reality         at such swaps and want equally arable land
and the competing historical narratives          because it divides the West Bank, and the      as the lands they would cede.
were adopted by either side and around the       same goes for Givat Zeev settlement.”
world.                                              If anything, the documents shatter the      Right:The Washington Institute for Near
   This time, the proposed territorial con-      illusion that there is a bottom-line consen-   East Policy published a proposed map for
cessions that former Israeli Prime Minister      sus about certain settlements being annexed    dividing the West Bank, just before Al
Ehud Olmert and Palestinian negotiators          to Israel in a final-status agreement. Many
discussed are visible in living colour - in a    groups refer to these as the “everybody        Jazeera published leaked map details from
set of leaked Palestinian Authority docu-        knows” settlements, such as Maaleh             Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2008
ments published by Al Jazeera.                   Edumim and Efrat, both near Jerusalem.         and 2009. (Washington Institute)
   The maps are significant because they
show how close the two sides are on some
issues - for example, which would control
certain Jewish neighbourhoods in eastern
Jerusalem. But they also show that the
gaps on other issues remain far from
resolved, particularly regarding Jewish
settlements deep inside the West Bank.
   Back in 2000, Dennis Ross, now the lead
negotiator on the issue, talked President
Bill Clinton into not committing anything
to paper because he said the controversy
that would ensue from maps and percent-
age sheets outweighed the value of getting
things down in writing. He especially dis-
trusted the late Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat.
   Instead of squelching controversy, how-
ever, the absence of written proposals and
maps stoked it. Now the leaked maps will
help keep the Palestinian and Israeli posi-
tions straight.
   The map detailing Olmert’s alleged offer
to the Palestinian side shows Israel giving
5,5 per cent of territory in Israel proper in
exchange for 6,8 per cent of the West Bank.
The swaps that Ahmed Qureia, a former PA
prime minister and a top negotiator,
reportedly proposed in January 2008 to
then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni,
were a 1:1 ratio and amounted to trading to
Israel less than 2 per cent of the West Bank.
   The Palestinian Authority accounts of
meetings with Israeli and American inter-
locutors reveal many areas of agreement,
most of which have been known widely for
years. The Palestinians want recognition of
the rights of Palestinian refugees and their
descendants from Israel’s 1948 War of
Independence, but they also acknowledge
that the refugees ultimately will remain
where they are living now.
   “If the Arabs will be part of the solution,
there will be no problem in this issue,”
Qureia told Livni in 2008. “We have to
engage countries that host the refugees.”
   Such compromises appear contingent on
the relationship between Palestinian and
Israeli leaders. Ties between the Pale-
stinian Authority and the Olmert govern-
ment in 2008 were better than they are now
between the Palestinian Authority and
Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. In
2008, direct negotiations were a matter of
course, not an aspiration.
   How mutual suspicion affects talks is
made evident in the leaked report of an
October 2009 meeting between George
Mitchell, the top US envoy to the region,
and Saeb Erekat, the lead PA negotiator.
Erekat says that if Netanyahu insists on
rejecting refugee rights at the outset, the
“Palestinian leadership can only respond
by insisting on full exercise of right of
return.”
   The same dynamic, in which friendlier
talks lead to more expansive proposals,
applies to territory. In May 2008, in another
meeting with Livni, Qureia apparently out-
lined a deal that would allow Israel to
retain a chunk of Gush Etzion, the bloc of
Jewish settlements south of Jerusalem,
near Bethlehem, as well as nearly all of the
Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. In
the October 2009 meeting with Mitchell,
Erekat says construction in some of those
neighbourhoods is inhibiting talks.
   The most striking theme that recurs in
the documents is how far apart the parties
are when it comes to balancing Israel’s
reluctance to relocate settlers with
Palestinian demands for territorial conti-
guity in the West Bank.
   “In the end the whole matter isn’t merely
the value of exchange but the reality of
those Israelis and where they live,” Livni

				
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