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Friday, August 20, 2010

Israeli - 'Palestinian' direct talks to start September 2?

According to reports in the wee hours of Friday morning, direct talks between Israel and the 'Palestinians' will resume on Sepotember 2.
"Envoys from the so-called Quartet of powers -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- agreed to the details on Thursday," Reuters cited its diplomatic source, adding a formal statement was expected to be issued Friday.

The two parties were expected to accept the invitation, and President Obama is expected to attend.

POLITICO reported Monday that Israeli-Palestinian direct talks were expected to be announced this week, despite the reported rejection by the Israeli Cabinet Sunday of a statement from the Quartet as the basis for direct talks.
Earlier, it was reported that the Quartet statement to be issued on Friday would drop the reference to the need for a 'settlement freeze' but would still include a one-year deadline for talks to conclude - another provision that Israel rejects.

My guess is that the talks will start with each side making reservations to the Quartet's terms of reference.


Here's a bit more detail about the arguments between the sides.
Multiple diplomatic sources confirmed that the substance of the reported draft represents a compromise intended to accommodate the Palestinians' calls for the pending Quartet statement to include several specific items that they believe are "terms of reference" for the direct talks but which the Israeli side sees as "preconditions" that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to reject.

The apparent compromise would result in a statement whereby the Quartet reaffirms a "full commitment to its previous statements," according to Reuters, a reference to the March 19 Quartet statement issued in Moscow, but doesn't explicitly repeat certain contentious language from that document.

Among the disputed items in that statement, which Netanyahu ultimately rejected, were calls for a Palestinian state to be established in 24 months and for Israel to halt all settlement building, including natural growth of existing settlements, as well as building and evictions in East Jerusalem.

Neither side wants to be seen as resisting the move to direct talks, which the Obama administration has been pushing hard to begin before Netanyahu's 10-month settlement moratorium expires next month. If the Quartet is able to get its new statement out Friday, it will be about a week later than State Department sources had predicted, due to some extra shuttle diplomacy that the U.S. team had not anticipated.


Although it's too early to tell because the final Quartet statement hasn't been released, the compromise might be crafty enough to get the job done.

"I believe we could be able to accept such a statement if it doesn't assume to determine the terms of reference and doesn't pre-empt the negotiations," one Israeli official told The Cable, responding to a query about the leaked draft.

Some reports blamed the delay on disputes inside the Quartet between the United States and the EU, largely about the same issues. But one European diplomat in Israel said that these reports were misleading and the real dispute was over how to accommodate both the Israelis and Palestinian on substance and choreography.

There is a sense of urgency about the Quartet statement, because Friday is seen as the last day that key U.S. officials, including Clinton, will be working before their August vacations and because preparations will be needed to get the direct talks underway in time to beat the deadline, assuming there are no further delays.
In other news, the 'Palestinian Authority' has named a town square in the town of Madama after a suicide bomber. The more things change the more they stay the same.


At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minister Eitan Proposes "Reduced Settlement" Policy

Keep knitting, Madam Defarge.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

That presumes the talks will have any more success than the proximity talks did. If they get underway at all in September.


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