Diplomacy

Palestinians Issue, Then Disavow, List of Conditions for Talks

Palestinian officials on Thursday reportedly presented a new list of demands that the Israelis would have to meet lest the Palestinians abandon peace talks, as Jerusalem reacted to Tuesday’s diplomatic gambit by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas – in which Abbas committed to joining 15 international treaties in violation of commitments designed to promote a nine-month peace push by Secretary of State John Kerry – by canceling a planned fourth prisoner release.

 

Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, who has pushed heavily for the Jewish state to make concessions and was a key figure in laying the groundwork for Kerry’s initiative, emphasized that prisoner releases had always been linked to progress in negotiations, and that “new conditions were established” by Abbas’s move.

Reports of the Palestinians’ new demands, moreover, were assessed by Israeli outlet Yediot Aharonot as indicating an even further “hardening of positions.” The list included requirements that the Jewish state cede East Jerusalem, lift restrictions on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, end anti-terror operations in parts of the West Bank, and release 1,200 prisoners.

1. A written commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu that the borders of the Palestinian state will be along the 1967 ‘green-line’ and that its capital will be East Jerusalem.
2. The release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, including political heavyweights Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shubkhi.
3. An end to the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the formulation of dealing allowing the flow of goods into Gaza.
4. A halt in construction in East Jerusalem.
5. The IDF will not be allowed to enter Area A – the area of the West Bank under autonomous PA control since the Oslo Accords – to conduct arrests or assassinations
6. Israel will permit the PA control over Area C – currently under Israel’s control.
7. The Palestinians known as the Church of Nativity deportees – a group of terrorist who barricaded themselves in the Church of the Nativity on April 2, 2002 and were later deported to European nations and the Gaza Strip – will be allowed to return to the West Bank.
8. The reopening of a number of Palestinian development agencies Israel shut down.

The conditions – some of which could most generously be described as non-starters, and which contributed to perceptions of Palestinian intransigence – were quickly disavowed by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who publicly insisted that the demands were not coming from him or his staff. The incident, which was widely reported by Palestinian media outlets, came alongside other signals of potential indecision among the Palestinian leadership.

The Associated Press had noted that Abbas’s initial press conference on Tuesday appeared to have been “hastily convened.” The Palestinian leader’s speech at that press conference insisted that the Palestinians were seeking to cooperate with the United States, even as he announced steps that risked crippling Kerry’s initiative, and that they were still interested in negotiating with Israel, despite actions that violated core commitments to avoid unilateralism stretching back to the Oslo Accords.

[Photo: dcexaminer / YouTube]