Friday, April 12, 2013
Kerry Stirs The MidEast Pot
Conflict Is Not Primarily over Territory - Barak Ravid
A senior Israeli official involved in the talks held in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel opposes Kerry's proposal to resume negotiations with the PA on the basis of discussing border and security issues alone. The official said that Kerry "thinks that the conflict is primarily over territory...and that is wrong." "Israel opposes placing the issues of borders and security at the preliminary stage of negotiations, and we said this to Kerry. On this issue, there is full consent among all the ministers dealing with the Palestinian subject, including Tzipi Livni."
Israel demands that if negotiations are to be resumed, they will need to address, in parallel, all core issues of the final settlement - including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a solution to the refugee problem. "If the discussion commences with talks about borders and security, Israel will only give, and will get almost nothing in return," the official said. "When we get to the issues where the Palestinians will need to give something up - like the right of return - we won't have any bargaining chips left."
In addition, Israel also opposes making significant gestures toward the Palestinians before the resumption of negotiations. Off the table are any moves such as releasing prisoners, transferring weapons to the PA's security services, and the promotion of economic projects that would require the transfer of land to Palestinian control. "There is no problem with setting up sewage treatment plants, schools or roads in Area C. But if we're talking about transferring land through economic projects, then we're not ready to do so. If negotiations are renewed, we will be willing to perform many gestures and steps, but they will take place as part of a process that is already underway."