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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

About that 'core issues' demand

Some of you may have been puzzled by the Obama administration demand that the 'proximity talks' deal with the 'core issues' of our conflict with the 'Palestinians.' That demand competes with an Israeli demand for 'direct talks.' I am going to try to sort this out for you and to explain why the demand to deal with the 'core issues' in the 'proximity talks' is one that Israel cannot accept.

When the diplomats talk about 'core issues' here, they are referring to final borders between Israel and a 'Palestinian' entity, 'Palestinian refugees' (but of course not to Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and Jerusalem. They might also be referring to an end of conflict statement, but usually they are not.

In direct talks, Israel and the 'Palestinians' will sit at the same table and speak to each other, possibly with Americans and others also present at the table. In 'proximity talks,' US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell will shuttle between the parties relaying messages back and forth.

Israel is willing to discuss the 'core issues' only in direct talks, which direct talks it has been demanding since the 'Palestinians' cut them off in December 2008. Israel agreed to 'proximity talks' only as a means to agree on terms on which the parties could return to direct talks. As part of the fallout from Obama's temper tantrum last week, the United States is now demanding that Israel discuss the 'core issues' in the 'proximity talks.' That's a bad thing because it's a major step down the road to an imposed solution.
The danger of proximity talks in which all the “core issues” of the conflict would be on the table is that the U.S. would act not as mediator but in tandem with the Palestinians to pressure Israel into making dangerous and unprecedented concessions. As Haaretz reported two weeks ago,
According to a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, the Obama administration has promised Abbas that if either side fails to live up to expectations, the United States will not conceal its disappointment, nor will it hesitate to take steps to remove the obstacle. In addition, the PA was promised that the United States would not be satisfied with playing the role of messenger. According to what the official read to me, the Obama administration will present its own proposals in an effort to bridge the gaps.
Obama has shown very clearly that, as on health care, he is personally passionate, emotionally invested, and possessed of the belief that he has the power to push through sweeping changes. The proximity talks would give Obama just the opening he needs to subject Netanyahu to an escalating series of demands and punishments — confronting him with the same dilemma he faces right now, only even more severe.
And he wouldn't even have to get Congressional approval. What could go wrong?


At 8:36 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Exactly. Israel should turn down the American demand. If the Palestinians want to discuss "core issues" they will have to sit down and talk directly to Israel. Israel must not allow itself to be pushed into a situation whereby the Palestinians can pocket Israeli concessions without having to compromise or end the conflict with Israel. Israel must not walk into the American trap.

At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop the talks- they are a trap to put israel in a vice. The paths all lead to a forced resolution. DebbyL


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