Palestinians : Talks with Israel over

2012-01-25 22:38

Ramallah - Exploratory peace talks with Israel have ended with nothing to show for them, the Palestinian president said on Wednesday, pledging to consult with the Arab League about the next moves and leaving open the possibility of an extension.

After a total break of more than a year, international mediators persuaded the sides to send their negotiators to Jordan to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks. Reflecting the depth of their differences, they could not even agree on when to submit proposals.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would discuss the prospects with the Arab League next week, Israel wants to keep talking, and Abbas is under mounting international pressure not to walk away.

Visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to meet separately over the next two days with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Two officials involved in the contacts said she is trying to put together a package of Israeli incentives that would keep the Palestinians in the talks.

In the Jordanian-mediated exploratory talks, Israeli and Palestinian envoys met several times over the past month, including on Wednesday.

The Quartet of international mediators - the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - said last fall that it expected both sides to submit detailed proposals on borders and security arrangements, in hopes the dialogue would evolve into full-fledged peace talks.

Palestinian officials said they submitted their proposals, but that Israel did not. "If we demarcate the borders, we can return to negotiations, but Israel does not want to do that," Abbas said on Wednesday, after talks in Jordan with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Israel says it has submitted a document outlining the areas that need to be discussed, but it was not characterised as a proposal.

Diplomatic manoeuvres

Abbas said he would consult with the Arab League - which usually rubber stamps his decisions - on February 4. This would allow for an additional nine days of diplomatic manoeuvres to save the talks.

A walkout could cost the Palestinians international sympathy at a time when they seek global support for UN membership for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel is eager to keep talking and to "try to achieve a historic agreement before the end of the year," an Israeli government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief reporters.

"We hope that the Palestinians aren't looking for an excuse to walk away from the table."

Ashton said during a visit to Gaza on Wednesday that "we need to keep talks going and increase the potential of these talks to become genuine negotiations."

The two sides disagreed on how much time was set aside for the exploratory talks.

The Palestinians said the deadline is Thursday, or three months after the Quartet issued its marching orders, while Israel believes it has until early April, or three months after the start of meetings.

Underlying the impasse is Abbas' conviction that it's impossible to reach an acceptable border deal with the hard-line Netanyahu.

Land-swap concept

The Palestinians are ready for minor adjustments in the lines of the West Bank through land swaps, but Israel has not submitted a proposal. Netanyahu has not endorsed the land-swap concept and insists that east Jerusalem belongs to Israel.

Netanyahu has also rejected Palestinian demands that he halt construction in Jewish settlements on occupied lands or recognize the pre-1967 war's cease-fire line as a baseline for border talks.

Abbas argues that without such assurances, there is no point in returning to negotiations. He fears Israel will use continued negotiations as a diplomatic cover for seizing more land, through settlements, that the Palestinians want for their state.

Israel counters that the Palestinians have not made a halt to settlement construction a condition for peace talks in the past.

The Palestinians reluctantly agreed to the Jordanian-mediated talks because they did not want to turn down a request by the Jordanian monarch.

Strong ties with Jordan, which neighbours the West Bank and is home to millions of Palestinians, are a pillar of Abbas' foreign policy.

  • Mthuthuzeli - 2012-01-25 23:58

    "Israel counters that the Palestinians have not made a halt to settlement construction a condition for peace talks in the past." If you weren't building settlements in the past, how would the Palestinians have know that in the future isarel was planning on building settlements. This is nothing but a preposterous delaying tactic.

      Jaba - 2012-01-26 06:30

      As far as the West Bank goes it is disputed land – not occupied land… the theory of occupation is anti-Israel propaganda. A judge of International Court of Justice and Professor of International Law at Johns Hopkins University who makes three distinctions specific to the Israeli situation to claim that the territories were seized in self-defense (when Israel was attacked by five Arab armies and surprisingly won the war) and that Israel has more title to them than the previous holders (for there has never been a Palestinian state nor Palestinian people who were Arab before the creation of Israel – the Palestinians as the west called them, were referring to the Jews of the land – the Arabs were always called Arabs by the British Empire). Professor Julius Stone also writes that”Israel's presence in all these areas pending negotiation of new borders is entirely lawful, since Israel entered them lawfully in self-defense.” Israelis living in the west Bank is nothing new – its been done since the creation of the state in 1948. You claim that they “were not building in the past” which is false.

      Jaba - 2012-01-26 06:32

      Some examples listed below: • Gush Etzion—four communities, established between 1927 and 1947, destroyed 1948, re-established beginning 1967. • Hebron—Jewish presence since biblical times, forced out in the wake of the 1929 Hebron massacre, some families returned in 1931 but were evacuated by the British, a few buildings resettled in 1967. • Kfar Darom—established in 1946, evacuated in 1948, resettled in 1970, evacuated in 2005 as part of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. • Kalia and Beit HaArava—the former was built in 1934 as a kibbutz for potash mining. The latter was built in 1943 as an agricultural community. Both were abandoned in 1948, and subsequently destroyed by Jordanian forces, and resettled after the Six Day War • Gaza City had a Jewish community for many centuries that was evacuated following riots in 1929. After the Six Day War, Jewish communities were built elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, but not in Gaza City proper

      Mthuthuzeli - 2012-01-26 08:04

      The History Channel showed yesterday how the Nazis engaged in their own policy of lebensraum (living space)and encouraged the Russians to invade eastern Poland so as to share a border with Germany, and have concluded thus: Israel is practising the age old ideology of 'lebensraum’. They will not stop until all Palestinians are either dead or existing as refugees in Jordan or other neighbouring country. Then when Israel has achieved it's immediate goal and the dust has just about settled, it will have a border dispute with one of it's neighbours, use it as an excuse to invade ( with the help of the 'good old US of A') and then carry out more settlements ad infinitum ad nausiam! The Nazis have taught you well (Palestinians living in Ghettos surrounded by big walls)

      Boaz - 2012-01-26 08:43

      You wrong Mthuthuzeli, the very day after the UN declared Israel a country in 1948, five Arab countries attacked, and she has been struggling for her right to life ever since. Im here to reiterate Israel's right to self-defence, inherent in all legitimate countries. From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and 60 times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution, the State of Israel has somehow survived. When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery; today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.

      Mthuthuzeli - 2012-01-26 09:57

      @Miriam I have no intention of ever visiting that military outpost and be manhandled by their racist perveted border control soldiers.

      MiriamBawden - 2012-01-26 10:05

      haha seriously?! Why are they racist? You have never met one of our soldiers.. And exactly how do you think you have ANY right to comment on my home?!! Just to let you know YOU HAVE NONE.

      Mthuthuzeli - 2012-01-26 10:35

      Unfortunately for you, you don't get to decide which rights I have and haven't got. This is not Israhell.

      Dirk - 2012-01-26 10:57

      My apologies for the behaviour and ignorance of Mthuthuzeli. Clearly, he is the victim of the ANC s education system. It has deteriorated to such an extent, that the grade 12s leave school illiterate.

      MiriamBawden - 2012-01-26 12:20

      Oh I get it, ANC brainwash victim. I am still waiting for the reason you called our soldiers racists...

  • MiriamBawden - 2012-01-26 09:58

    My 2 cents on this (been it is about my country and people) - it is our homeland, how would you like it if someone came to your country and said you cant build because they want it?! But they can build all they want on your land! - Arabs in Israel have more rights and freedom than in ANY arab controled country in the world! In surveys and you can ask any arab living in Israel and they will say they DO NOT want to live in "palestine" - Arabs in "palestine" live better than MOST Jews in Israel!! (for proof go to Hebron) - Lastly my personal opinion - if you have not been here and to "palestine" you have no right to talk about it as you have NO idea what goes on.

      Adam - 2012-01-26 21:06

      barry. which arabs were moved in the night? you might be thinking of the ones who tried to leave on there own merit and when they got to egypt and jordan entry was refused. or maybe youre thinking of all the jews who were kicked out of every arab land, having to leave their wealth and assets to the government? barry, in your world, the palestinians are the sweetest little people who are bullied daily, in the real world they are fanatical thugs who wantr nothing more then blood shed. the sad part is you know this. if they were so desperate for a home land they would not be walking away from negotiations. they are perfectly happy to ignore negotiations and go back to the suicide bombing factory table. barry i hate you

      Barry - 2012-01-26 21:34

      @Adam.. Which Arabs were moved ? So much hatred in you Adam. Tsk Tsk. Bless :)

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