Now in a new phase: the US is blaming BOTH sides for the lack of progress in the talks

Here is a video of US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Algiers when he should have been back in Jerusalem or Ramallah [were he was a day earlier, on 1 April]… Instead, Kerry took off from a NATO meeting in Brussels, and headed to Algiers. But he kept on talking about the Israeli-Palestinian talks…

He even mentioned “self-determination”… and he can only have been referring to Palestinian self-determination, because Israel realized its right of self-determination on 15 May 1948:

“Self-determination”, Kerry said, “Peace” — “it’s easy to say the words but it is not easy to achieve the goals”…

US policy has morphed in past 24+hrs from 1) @AmbassadorPower [Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN] blaming Palestinians], to 2) not playing the “blame game”, and then to 3) apportioning blame to both sides.

Kerry said in Algiers: “The parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises. The leaders have to lead”…

UNRWA digitalizes to save its historic archive of photos

“This is a population who exist, who have a history and is deserving of a future in which they and their children can live in dignity and enjoy full rights” – UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness to Ma’an News Agency at the opening of an exhibit in Jerusalem’s Old City on the digitalizing of its historic archive of photos. The Ma’an report is posted here.

The UNRWA digital archives can be accessed online here. The images record events in 1848 and 1967, as well as in between, and since.

Agence France Presse [AFP] reported here that “Because of its historical and cultural significance, the [UNRWA] archive has been inscribed UNESCO’S ‘Memory of the World’ list since 2009″.

[UNRWA was founded by the UN General Assembly at the very end of 1949, and only began operations in 1950; the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, registered and helped Palestinian refuges before that date...]

UNRWA photographer George Nehmeh, from Lebanon [where UNRWA was headquartered for many years] worked for the Agency, as it is known among Palestinians, from 1960 to 1996:

Ma’an reported that “The archive consists of over half a million negatives, prints, slides, films and videocassettes, covering all aspects of the lives and history of Palestinian refugees since 1948…The first group of photographs were shown on Thursday in an exhibition entitled ‘The Long Journey’ at the Al-Ma’mel Center in East Jerusalem’s Old City”

The BBC published a slideshow, posted here of the photos now on display in East Jerusalem.

The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner wrote, here, that “The exhibit that opened Thursday, called ‘The Long Journey’, will soon go on tour to large cities in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and possibly Syria, and will also be shown at cultural and political centers in Europe and North America … Palestinians refer to the events of 1948 as al-Nakba, Arabic for ‘the catastrophe’. About 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war over the foundation of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were later displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, some becoming refugees twice over. Tens of thousands have recently been displaced again, reliving the trauma, because of the civil war raging in Syria”… [n.b. -- There were other occasions of multiple displacement, as well, from Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, and more...]

The NYTimes, too, published a slideshow, here, to accompany Kershner’s article.

Kershner also wrote, in her piece, that “the refugee issue remains one of the most delicate and complex elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the core of the two sides’ clashing historical narratives. So it was perhaps inevitable that some Israelis would view the new memorialization of the refugee experience through a prism of politics and contention. ‘When was the last time that any United Nations agency raised so much money and invested so much effort in organizing and circulating around the world the documentation of a specific plight like that of the Palestinian refugees? Never’, said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry … Mr. Palmor said that while the agency mostly did good work on the ground, it was ‘dedicated to preserving the refugees’ status rather than encouraging their resettlement or integration in their current or alternative locations, contributing to the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem’.” As Kershner reported, UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunnes responded that “What is perpetuating the refugee problem is the failure of the political parties to resolve it”…

Meanwhile, Greg Carlstrom [now an independent journalist, formerly with Al-Jazeera English in Doha] Tweeted from Cairo:
Gregg Carlstrom ‏@glcarlstrom 29 Nov — The @nytimes manages to write about a photo exhibit on Palestinian refugees without interviewing a single Palestinian here

Netanyahu, at age 28, on a Palestinian State [basically: no way ... at most, if they behave well, the Palestinians can get eventual citizenship of some kind, Israeli or Jordanian or some other, he says...]

While looking for something totally unrelated on Youtube, this completely other video was suggested:  it shows a young Benyamin Netanyahu, before he even took the name “Netanyahu”.

He’s identified here as “Ben” or “Benjamin Nitay”, a 28-year-old graduate of MIT, an Israeli [and, according to the screen titles, an "economic consultant"] who has “written widely on this question before the house tonight”.

In the video, Ben Nitay / Benyamin Netanyahu is not debating his political views, he’s being given a platform to say what he wants, to argue his polemic.

Looking a lot like John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Live”,  but with much wilder eyes, Nitay / Netanyahu says:

“No, I don’t think Palestinians do have a right to a state… For 20 years [from 1948 to 1967] we didn’t hear a word about self-determination… I’m sure…if the process continues they will be offered citizenship of some kind, be it Israeli or Jordanian”

The moderator is Marilyn Berger of the Public Broadcast System in the U.S. — who co-anchored the best and almost only non-stop coverage, such as it was in the days before satellite communications and computers, of both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars — and the endless debates in the UN Security Council in New York, afterwards.

“Attorney One”, as we shall call him, is the gentle-mannered late Morris Abrams whose warm and kind demeanor didn’t obscure fierce pro-Israel views.  He was later to become the U.S, Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, where he served for years, before his retirement — when he founded the Geneva-based UN Watch [which watches out for Israel].

Morris Abrams gets the first Question: “Mr. Nitay, is self-determination at the core of this conflict?”

This allows the young Netanyahu to explain: “No, I don’t think it is.  The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel”…

Little has changed in more than three decades.

“For twenty years, the ‘Arabs’ had both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and if self-determination were, as they say it is, the core of the conflict, they could have easily established a Palestinian State, but they didn’t…For twenty years, we didn’t hear a word about self-determination. In fact what we did hear, those of us living in the Middle East, was about ‘driving the Jews into the sea’… Now, after 1967, under the leadership of the PLO, the hardline strategy shifted to adopting a moderate dressed-up slogan which talked in terms about first a secular, democratic state and then replaced it with ‘Palestinian self-determination’. But, what this really means, is contrary to what Mr. Arouri said about 1977 being a a changed year in the PLO’s objectives, let me quote you what the PLO Information Office said in a Dutch paper in 1977, on May 5, 1977, the statement was very simple: ‘Our objective remains the destruction of the Zionist state’. So, let’s keep in mind, the objective here is not to build a state, but to destroy one”…

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Netanyahu throws the table over

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, back from the US + the UN where he insisted on even-more-than-full implementation of Security Council demands on Iran, went this evening to Bar Ilan University [where he sort of endorsed something that he hoped at the time could be construed as a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians] and threw it all over.

In an unusually-strongly-written piece, Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid reported here that:

“Almost four and half years after he stood at the podium at Bar-Ilan University and delivered a moderate speech in which he recognized for the first time the two-state solution, Netanyahu returned to the same spot to give a hawkish address in which he did everything except announce that he is reneging on his agreement in principle to Palestinian statehood. ‘Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and give up on the right of return there will not be peace’, he said in his address.

The prime minister went on to say that even if they do agree to these conditions, it will not be sufficient. ‘After generations of incitement we have no confidence that such recognition will percolate down to the Palestinian people’, he said. ‘That is why we need extremely strong security arrangements and to go forward, but not blindly’.

Netanyahu went on to emphasize that the ‘occupation and settlements’ are not the core of the conflict. Netanyahu used the word ‘occupation’ with a mixture of disdain and abhorrence. ‘The conflict, if I have to choose a date when it began in earnest, began in the year 1921, on the day Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigrants’ house in Jaffa. This attack, of course, had nothing to do with the territories or settlements. It was against the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel. Then came the Partition Plan in 1947, with the suggestion of an Arab state alongside a Jewish state’, he continued. ‘The Jews agreed, the Arabs refused. Because the issue was not then the question of a Palestinian state – the issue was and remains the Jewish state. Then 19 years later came the stranglehold around us aimed at uprooting us. And why? After all, then there was no occupation’.”

Netanyahu’s speech came only hours after, as Barak Ravid also reported, in an earlier article posted here, “Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provide the cabinet with weekly reports on the negotiations with the Palestinians, fearing that Netanyahu might spring an ‘all or nothing’ solution too far to the left…’It can’t be that the cabinet isn’t kept up to date on such negotiations [Ariel said]. In the end you’ll bring for a cabinet vote a finished product in the style of all or nothing. This can’t continue. I demand information’. Netanyahu did not respond. After not receiving an answer, Ariel said he intends to repeat his demand every week”.

And Netanyahu’s speech preceeded by a day a previously-postponed reciprocal visit to Ramallah, as the Times of Israel reported here, of a group of Israeli MPs [or MKs, Knesset members] dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s approach to negotiations. The Israeli Knesset members have formed a caucus, and had in July hosted, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, a small group of Palestinians designated by President Mahmoud Abbas to make contacts with Israelis.

The Times of Israel reported that “caucus chair MK Hilik Bar (Labor) told The Times of Israel on Sunday [before the Netanyahu speech] that: ‘We have a government that has promised to pursue the two-state solution and a majority in the Knesset for two states, despite the rhetoric on the right. We want to show Abu Mazen that we’ll do everything in our power to advance peace, and the Palestinian Authority has to do the same’.”  Referring to an attack on a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the “Jewish community” of Psagot, adjoining Ramallah-AlBireh, Bar added:  ‘We’re not achieving anything when we stop the negotiations because of these horrific, evil attacks. There have been attacks on Jews for decades. Only a final peace agreement that ends the conflict will end the attacks’.”

Netanyahu’s new tone also followed a two-day conference held at the Eretz Israeli Museum in Tel Aviv organized by the Israeli organization Zochrot, aimed at reducing fear of discussion of the Palestinian Right of Return. Gideon Levy, who addressed the conference, also reported on it, in an article Haaretz published here.

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Palestinian MPs and politicians go to a Knesset caucus meeting — to support negotiations

It could have gone either way, but Palestinian participants say the July 31 meeting between a handful of members of the “Civil Dialogue Committee” appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Knesset “Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, went even better than expected.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, head of the Political Committee and the Fatah bloc in the [non-functioning] Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] said he was relieved that there’d been no raucous denunciation in Israel either of the meeting itself, or of the Palestinian flag displayed, next to Israel’s, at the front of the room. He said he’d been worried that the caucus might “be subject to criticism — for hosting terrorists”.

“The substance was more important than seeing the Palestinian flag in the Knesset”, Dr. Abdullah said – but he nonetheless said it was indeed the first time the Palestinian flag had been displayed inside the Knesset, during a meeting.

Abdullah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council who also works on the Fatah Foreign Relations Committee with Nabil Shaath, said that “every MK who spoke in the meeting was in favor of the two-state solution”. A Times of Israel account of the meeting is posted here.

Mohammad Madani, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, its highest decision-making body, was named by Abbas to head the “Civil Dialogue Committee”. He said the meeting had been “fruitful”, and added that “we were very happy to see MKs who stand behind the two-state solution”.

Abdullah conceded that “We are sensitive to the ‘normalization’ issue”, but he said that “we know that when we meet, they are the occupiers and we are the occupied. We were not there to tolerate the occupation — but to tell them it must end”.

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Palestinian President Abbas: release of 104 longest-held Palestinian prisoners is a litmus test for Israel’s seriousness about negotiations

Given a choice, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas left aside the issue of settlements and informed the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the “litmus test” for Israel’s seriousness in resumed negotiations will be the release of the 104 longest-held Palestinian prisoners.

These prisoners are men who have been in Israeli jails for 20 to 30 years, so far — since before the Oslo Accords. And, according to Palestinian negotiators, Israel already agreed to release these men, in 1999, but failed to do so.

Secretary Kerry has apparently told the Palestinians that the Israeli government will do this now.

There is still doubt. Israeli officials have suggested that they will decide which prisoners will be released — despite the list of 104 specific names Kerry passed to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. And, Israeli officials are saying that they will decide where the prisoners will be released to — whether it’s to their homes, or to Gaza or other countries. Palestinian officials are saying these men must be returned to their homes and families. See our post on our sister blog, UN-Truth, for more details.

The 104 prisoners are to be released in four groups over the 9-month projected time to which the Palestinians and Israeli negotiators have committed themselves — and the first group of 26 prisoners is to be released on August 13 — the day before a second meeting of the negotiators is due to take place in Jerusalem.

“The territorial issue is the most significant one for the Palestinians” + they will insist on 1967 borders as basis for renewed negotiations

Akiva Eldar has written in Al-Monitor here that “Al-Monitor has learned that the Palestinian leadership decided after internal deliberations to tell Kerry that it would not give up its demand to launch negotiations based on the 1967 borders at any price…The Palestinian leadership’s decision to insist on the 1967 borders as a precondition for renewed negotiations came the day after the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting ended in Jordan on May 27″.

Also today, Shaul Arieli published an article in Haaretz here saying that “The speeches of the leaders at the World Economic Forum in Amman once again attest to the insight that often emerged from the negotiations Israel held with the PLO on a final status agreement: The territorial issue is the most significant one for the Palestinians, while they consider the right of return a bargaining chip”.

Arieli should know. He was an advisor to Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the Camp David Negotiations, and has since been deeply involved with the Geneva [Civil Society] Initiative and with Israel’s Council on Peace and Security.

Israel HaYom reported here that “On Monday, Abbas told Saudi newspaper Al-Watan that the PA ‘would not return to negotiations’ unless Israel agreed to a settlement freeze and accepted a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders. He said Israeli intransigence on this issue was preventing the diplomatic process from moving forward. The PA president told Al-Watan he was committed to east Jerusalem — captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — as the future capital of the Palestinian state, and that there was ‘no room to compromise’ on this”.

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The Olmert revelations

Avi Issacharoff has published his promised report here on his interview with Israel’s Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert … in which Olmert describes his interaction with the Palestinian leaders and the proposals he gave Mahmoud Abbas on 16 September 2008.

Abbas has said he wants talks to restart from this point.

Issacharoff reported that Olmert said this:

“I completely gave up on having an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley…because I could protect the Jordan River line through an international military force on the other side of the Jordan River”… “There was no opposition on the Palestinian side to our having a presence in warning stations along the mountain range”…

Issacharoff: “Today, such an offer, particularly as it relates to the Jordan Valley, is all but inconceivable”… [Netanyahu wants control]

Olmert said: “I proposed a compromise on…the Temple Mount. There’d be no sovereignty for anyone else” but joint administration of 5 states This idea [no sovereignty but joint administration of 5 states – Palestine, Israel, Jordan Saudi Arabia, and the United States] “came from my head. I was thinking about it day + night”… What did Abbas say? Olmert: “he didn’t say he opposed my idea. It was clear to me that he agreed…”

Abbas said [according to Olmert] “Listen, it makes a very serious impression…but I have to be sure. I want the map experts from both sides to sit together”

Olmert told Issacharoff that: “We called over Turjeman + Saeb, I said Shalom should call Danny Tirza, our map expert, so they should sit together the next day” Olmert: But Saeb Erekat called the next day to cancel the map experts’ because the Palestinians “had forgotten that Abbas had to go to Amman”…

A senior Palestinian official told Issacharoff: “The natural thing was that Abu Mazen would not sign immediately” + would responsibly consult w/ the PLO leadership.

Issacharoff said he asked a senior Palestinian official:  Between the last meeting + the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, there were 3 months”. Why did you give no answer to Olmert in that time?

Olmert told Issacharoff that he had his own ideas about why: The Palestinians “were very worried. Abu Mazen is not a big hero. They were afraid. Erekat was worried..They thought maybe after the American elections they would get more from President Obama”…

In Issacharoff’s earlier piece [published in The Tower on 17 May], he wrote: “Olmert’s offer will likely one day become the basis for a final-status agreement”…

Saeb Erekat said, however, that “Olmert’s memory concerning the last meeting has been rather foggy”.

Erekat said there were “many intervening meetings” during the 3 months between the meeting with Olmert in September 2008 + Operation Cast Lead between Palestinian + Israelis [Turgeman, Livni, + Tal Becker].

Asked by the Jerusalem Post to elaborate, Erekat explained:
(1): “We also presented a map to Olmert that would transfer 1.9% of West Bank territory to Israeli sovereignty…”
(2): “On December 18, 2008 we deposited our map + Olmert’s map as we remembered it w/ President Bush at the White House…”
(3): we deposited our map w/ Bush “…in the presence of Rice + [National Security Advisor Stephen] Hadley…”
(4): Bush asked that “we + Israel send reps on Jan 3, 2009 to Washington, but then the operation [Cast Lead] began in Gaza”…

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UPDATE: A document in the Palestine Papers leaked to Al-Jazeera and now posted on their website here indicates that on 31 August, Olmert or his people ran a summary of the “package” he was going to propose, two weeks later in September, to Abbas.

It was apparently not yet complete, by the end of August, and did not contain the proposal of the 5-nation administration over the “Holy Basin”. It did, however, say that East Jerusalem would be divided territorially along the lines of the Clinton Parameters [with the exception of the “Holy Basin”, which Olmert said comprises 0.04% of the West Bank (approximately 2.2 km)]…

But it did contain the slightly whittled-down territorial concession:
“Israel would annex 6.8% of the West Bank … including the four main settlement ‘blocs’ of Gush ‘Etzion (with Efrata), Ma’ale Adumim, Giv’at Ze’ev and Ariel, as well as all of the settlements in East Jerusalem (with Har Homa), in exchange for the equivalent of 5.5% from Israeli territory … safe passage between Gaza and West Bank would be under Israeli sovereignty with Palestinian control, and is not included in the above percentages”.

And it said “There will be a special road connecting Bethlehem with Ramallah, thus by-passing East Jerusalem (most likely the same road currently planned around Adumim)”.

And “Israel would acknowledge the suffering of – but not responsibility for – Palestinian refugees … and eould contribute to the compensation of the refugees through an international mechanism and based on suffering … Compensation, and not restitution or return [(apart from 5,000 Israel would allow to return inside the Green Line on a humanitarian basis)], would be the only remedy”.

LAND SWAPS = Exclusive new report: map hand-drawn by Mahmoud Abbas from memory after meeting Ehud Olmert on 16 Sept 2008

This is an exclusive [not ours, but of Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff, who reported it in The Tower, here] — a map reportedly hand-drawn from memory by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 16 September 2008 upon his return to Ramallah after meeting Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In his exclusive, Issacharoff wrote that this map somehow “calls into question the basic willingness of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept any peace agreement with the Jewish State”…

But Issacharoff’s story [w/ the Abbas map exclusive] could have the effect of bolstering Abbas’ position that talks should restart at the point they broke off in September 2008 — in other words, on the basis of the proposals made at the time this map was drawn.  The current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has refused to start talks on this basis.  But, the concrete confirmation of the discussion on 16 September 2008 in the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, could somehow facilitate the restart of the direct negotiations.

This map, reportedly drawn by Abbas, appears to be encased in transparent plastic:

Negotiations map hand-drawn by Mahmoud Abbas from memory after meeting Ehud Olmert

Negotiations map hand-drawn by Mahmoud Abbas from memory after meeting Ehud Olmert

In fact, the only thing that’s new in this story, so far, is the photo of this map. [But, Issacharoff promises to publish his full interview with Olmert tomorrow...]

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Land Swaps

Palestinian negotiators have said for several years that the Israelis only let them look at this map, but never to keep it.   Palestinians then prepared their own map which they gave to George Mitchell at the start of the Obama administration’s involvement in 2009 — but they say that to this day Israel has not actually handed over a map, only shown one in September, then whisked it away.  [Another report published later today suggested that Abbas was asked to sign the map, but when he declined, the map was retained by Olmert...]

This map, which Issacharoff said is the one drawn by President Abbas, is a map of Israeli proposals for Land Swaps — an idea that evolved out of the Geneva Initiative signed in December 2003, in Geneva, between Israeli and Palestinian “civil society” teams.

The Palestinian team insisted that the Land Swaps be on a 1:1 basis — and this was agreed by the Israeli team of unofficial negotiators.  It was the one concrete Palestinian achievement through the Geneva Initiative.

The Palestinians additionally scored another point through the Geneva Initiative negotiations: the Land Swaps should be of land of an equal or greater “quality” [i.e., not rubbish or  poor-quality barren wasteland].

The Abbas-drawn map shows, inside the West Bank, only the 3 large settlement blocs that have been under discussion between Israels and Palestinians since 2000-2001: Ariel, Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim.

It also shows, outside the West Bank, what must be proposed areas of land swaps: 1.) North of the West Bank; 2.) at the Tarqumiya area  just to the West of the Tarqoumiya area [where the terminal for the two-way safe-passage route planned between Gaza and the West Bank was/is to be located] ; and 3.) South of the West Bank.  The Tarqoumiya area was/is supposed to be the terminal for the two-way safe-passage route that was supposed to be already operating already, for years, between Gaza and the West Bank.

[The two designs to the left are not clear -- the lower one appears to be the Gaza Strip, with the blob within the wavy line to the right appears to be the Land Swap offer.  Is the top one just a doodle?  UPDATE:  No -- According to Issacharoff's report on Friday 24 May in The Tower, these are the Arabic numbers of the percentage of Land Swap as Abbas incorrectly remembered them (6.8% and 5.5%, rather than 6.3%  and 5.8%)

NOTE: The Palestine Papers, leaked documents from the Palestinian offices including from the PLO’s Negotiations Support Unit, show that in a meeting in June 2008, three months before the final Olmert-Abbas meeting on 16 September 2008, Tzipi Livni said: “The 7.3% offer by Olmert is the most generous, and will be perceived by Israelis as the most fair”.  In that same meeting, Ahmad Qureia [Abu Alaa] stuck to the same 1.9% that Palestinian negotiators are still standing by today, and said that  “7.3 position just does not allow a state to survive, and it takes all around Jerusalem, and gives to the south of the West Bank and next to Gaza”.   This revelation is published here.

Another of the Palestine Paper documents describes Israel’s position in July 2008 as: ”Olmert’s proposal to AM [Abu Mazen, or Mahmoud Abbas] of 7.3% of West Bank (excl. East Jerusalem, No-Man’s Land i.e, 9.2%) in exchange for 5% equivalent from Israel in southern West Bank and around Gaza…” The same document also notes: “Not allowed to present GoI [Government of Israel] position on swaps”…And it also says “Willing to discuss swap but not 1:1 in quantity. Palestinians do not have ‘rights’ to the land and Israel is not under obligation to ‘return’ land to Palestinians”… This is published here.

On 15 July, a Palestinian team led by Abu Alaa was in Washington to meet Concoleezza Rice. According to the meeting notes, published by Palestine Papers here, Abu Alaa told Condi Rice: “We offered 1.9%. It is reasonable. We included the settlements inside Jerusalem – Psgat Zeev, etc. It’s the first time! … East Jerusalem is part of the 1967 border. Anything there should be part of the swap. Unfortunately, what we heard from Olmert is that he can’t stop building because it is Jerusalem”. Condoleeza Rice reportedly said: “Ariel is a problem, I told them – it protrudes down far into the Palestinian state…Also it would be difficult for Israel to protect Ariel without a large perimeter”.

I was shown a map very similar to the Abbas map in January 2001, in a Ministry in Ramallah — before the era of “Land Swaps” — and it showed only the West Bank with the three areas that Israel calls “settlement blocs”, minus any Israeli land that was on offer for a trade.

In other words, in late 2000 + 2001, Israeli negotiators working for then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak were proposing that they keep the three large settlement blocs marked on the map — but they were not proposing to give up any territory to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian negotiators apparently were willing at that time, as I was told in another Ramallah office, to cede only two, not three, of these settlement areas.   UPDATE: a Palestinian official in Ramallah told me today, however, that it was the opposite — the Palestinians had rejected [not accepted] two out of the three concessions.

In any case, it was not clear what the Palestinians would get, in exchange…

It took eight years [from 2001 to 2008] for the Israeli negotiators to sweeten their offer with an exchange proposal, the Land Swaps…

A Palestinian official in Ramallah told me this afternoon, however, that their team had refused to cede both Maale Adumim [which is half-way from Jerusalem to the Jordanian Border at the Dead Sea] and Ariel  [which goes 22 km deep inside the northern West Bank] .

He indicated that there was Palestinian willingness to give up some part of Gush Etzion in the south, a part that is near the 1967 Green Line.

In fact, he said, the Palestinians have rejected the idea of “settlement blocs” and are only willing to talk on a settlement-by-settlement basis.

He also said, as he said before, that Ehud Olmert wanted to take 6.5% of the West Bank, and was offering 5.8% territory in exchange, with compensation of just over 1% somehow.

What the Palestinians have proposed — and the map that the Palestinians have presented, which is not the Abbas-drawn map [above] of the Israeli proposals — is a 1:1 exchange of 1.9% of West Bank land.

This Palestinian official also noted that this map published by Issacharoff does not show East Jerusalem — which, he said, Olmert had accepted would be the capital of the Palestinian State…

“President Abbas did draw a map”, the official added, “but I’m not sure this map is the map the President drew”.  He said that professional cartographers working with the PLO then made a projection of Abbas’s drawing on a topograpical map of the West Bank… Then the Palestinian negotiators later presented their own map, which the U.S. government has officially received.

UPDATE: The Times of Israel reported here that “According to Walla, Olmert envisaged relinquishing Israeli territory on a one-for-one basis to the Palestinians in areas including near Afula; near Tirat Zvi south of Beit She’an; north of Jerusalem; in the Judean Desert, and in the Lachish area. He also endorsed a tunnel route to link Gaza and the West Bank.  Olmert, as he has subsequently confirmed, was also prepared to divide Jerusalem into Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods, and to relinquish Israeli sovereignty at the Temple Mount and the entire Old City. He proposed that the ‘Holy Basin’ be overseen instead by a five-member, non-sovereign international trusteeship, comprising Israel, the PA, Jordan, the US and Saudi Arabia”.

[Note - While I expect that the phrase "north of Jerusalem" refers to Olmert's proposing for the first time to give the industrial zone of Atarot as well as the Qalandia airport to the Palestinian Authority, under condition of joint operation... but I can't imagine what the writer, or Walla, meant by Israel relinquishing Israeli territory "in the Judean Desert"...? ]

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By the time the Olmert proposal was made to Abbas on 16 September 2008, as part of the American-led Annapolis process of negotiations that was supposed to lead to a state by the end of 2008 [or at the very latest by the end of the Bush Admininstration on 18 January 2009], Olmert himself was facing indictment and the Palestinians were told [and decided] to hold off on any commitment…

It was reportedly Tzipi Livni, at the time Olmert’s Foreign Minister [now, Netanyahu's Justice Minister and also somehow in charge, despite Molcho's apparently continuing role, of negotiations with the Palestinians] who advised the Palestinians to hold off on responding to Olmert in September 2008…

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a massive military operation, Cast Lead, into Gaza — and Abbas broke off negotiations a few days later. Despite a few contacts, these negotiations have not yet resumed — and Abbas wants them to resume where they left off on 16 September 2008…

Palestinians say that Netanyahu’s negotiator Yitzhak Molcho has since introduced the idea that Israel should be allowed to keep a security corridor all along the Jordan [River] Valley, carving out a large slice that would remain under their control.   Mohammad Shtayyah said after a series of direct contacts in Amman in January 2012 that Molcho said, “Give it to us, or we’ll take it”…  And President Abbas has complained to a number of visiting American and Israeli delegations about Israel’s Jordan Valley ambitions.

The Nakba … is awareness growing?

Tel Aviv-based public-opinion analyst Dahlia Scheindlin has just written an article in +972 Magazine, here, entitled “The Palestinian Nakba: Are Israelis starting to get it?”

Here is an excerpt from Dahlia Scheindlin’s piece:

“During the Camp David negotiations of 2000, when I was working with American pollster Stanley Greenberg supplying public opinion data to then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak almost nightly, the refugee issue tended to be the toughest problem, even as the Jewish public advanced significantly toward unprecedented compromises on Jerusalem (documented in Greenberg’s 2009 book).

Just after the talks collapsed, a Hebrew University survey in late July, 2000 asked Israelis (and Palestinians) whether they thought their respective leader’s compromises on each item had been appropriate, too much or too little. Among Israelis, the perception of Barak’s proposed compromises on Palestinian refugees gathered the highest ‘too much of a compromise’ response of all (64 percent gave this answer, compared to 57 percent for Jerusalem).

Twelve years later, in a December, 2012 survey by the same authors (Jacob Shamir and Khalil Shikaki), the Palestinian refugee question no longer holds the most-rejected-clause spot. That distinction now goes to the proposals on Jerusalem, based on the old Clinton framework (59 percent rejected them, 38 percent supported them). Respondents were asked about a refugee compromise which reflects the Clinton, Geneva Plan and Arab Peace Initiative approach:

Both sides agree that the solution will be based on UN resolutions 194 and 242. The refugees would be given five choices for permanent residency. These are: the Palestinian state and the Israeli areas transferred to the Palestinian state in the territorial exchange mentioned above; no restrictions would be imposed on refugee return to these two areas. Residency in the other three areas (in host countries, third countries, and Israel) would be subject to the decision of these states. As a base for its decision Israel will consider the average number of refugees admitted to third countries like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property.

Among the 600-person sample, which included Arabs, 42 percent accepted this and 49 percent rejected it – a significant decline from nearly two-thirds who felt it was ‘too much of a compromise’ in 2000.

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