THE LETTER [leaked draft]: Mahmoud Abbas to Benyamin Netanyahu

This is reportedly a late draft of THE LETTER that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is addressing to Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Abbas has been working on for months, if we are to believe the reports.

The Times of Israel [a new English-language internet publication] said they obtained it on Sunday 15 April, and they published it the same day — in English — here.

An Arabic-language text was leaked to Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid some two weeks earlier. Ravid wrote about it on 4 April, and also Tweeted each of the four pages of the Arabic text, as we reported on our sister blog,, here.


    Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu
    State of Israel

    H.E. Prime Minister Netanyahu:

    In 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Declaration of Principles (The Oslo Accords) and exchanged letters of mutual recognition with the Government of Israel.

    The Declaration of Principles defined its aim as the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 which would begin with a transitional period, and culminate with negotiations on the all final status issues including Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees, water, security, relations with neighboring countries, and other matters of mutual interest. Over the years, we included end of the conflict and claims, and the release of prisoners and detainees to these final status issues. May 1999 was set as the date by which negotiations on all final status issues would be completed and a comprehensive peace agreement between the two sides would be reached.

    The PLO and the State of Israel subsequently signed additional agreements including the Interim Agreement in 1995, the Wye River Agreement in 1998, the Hebron Protocol of 1998, and the Sharm Sheikh Agreement in 1999. We also engaged in negotiations on final status issues during the Camp David talks in 2000, the Annapolis talks between 2007-2008, and talks conducted in Washington D.C., Sharm Sheikh and West-Jerusalem in September 2010. Most recently, in January 2012, I dispatched a delegation to Amman, Jordan for exploratory talks in furtherance of the Quartet Statement of 23 September 2011.

    In the midst of these agreements and bilateral talks, the Arab states presented the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, and the Quartet for Middle East Peace presented its Road Map plan of 2003. Signed agreements, international law, and UN Resolutions, all recognize that peace will only be realized upon the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land that began in 1967. Until such time, Article 7 of the Interim Agreement stipulated that both parties, Israel and the PLO, shall not take any steps that would prejudice final status negotiations.

    A fundamental obligation placed on Israel under international law and the quartet’s Road Map, was that it freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth. In a letter sent by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to Norwegian foreign Minister Holst in 1993, Israel also committed itself to maintain the educational, economic, social, and cultural institutions in East Jerusalem, conserve the Christian and Moslem holy places, preserve Palestinian interests in East Jerusalem, and not to hinder their development.

    Mr. Prime Minister,

    As a leaders , both of us have to face skepticism and opposition. In the quest of peace we have to help each other. We know that violence and terror whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis is not the way. I know that it erodes both of our public’s trust in peace. Therefore, I reiterate our full commitment to a policy of zero tolerance against violence. At the same token, I expect your understanding that settlement building is eroding the Palestinian trust in your commitment to reconciliation and the idea of the two states solution. The logic is simple: If you support the establishment of a Palestinian state, why do you build on its territory?.

    Mr. Prime Minister,

    Among the most critical components of the signed agreements between the PLO and Israel is the recognition that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip constitute a single territorial unit, the integrity of which must be preserved until a final status agreement is reached. As such it is subject to one law and one authority. In recognition of this, I have been determined to end the division of my people through national reconciliation, in accordance with my political program which respects signed agreements, recognizes the State of Israel, and renounces violence. With regret, the Government of Israel has chosen to take a position diametrically opposed to Palestinian national reconciliation.
    Aside from this, we continue to honor all our obligations, including the reactivation of the trilateral anti- incitement committee

    Mr. Prime Minister,

    We have responded in good faith to the efforts exerted by President Obama, and the Quartet in furtherance of peace, and we have welcomed the courageous Jordanian initiative aimed at putting the peace process on the right track, including through the submission of comprehensive positions on territory and security by the parties.

    The Palestinian delegation submitted our proposals on these two final status issues and we reiterated our commitments and obligations. We asked your government to also submit comprehensive proposals on territory, security, and to commit to a settlement freeze, and release prisoners. These were not preconditions but Israeli obligations. To our deep regret, none of these commitments were honored.

    Mr. Prime Minister

    Our historic Peace Proposal is still waiting for an answer from Israel.
    • We agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22% of the territory of historical Palestine-on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
    • The establishment of independent Palestinian State that can live side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace and security on the borders of 1967 with mutually agreed swaps equal in size and value.
    • Security will be guaranteed by a third party accepted by both, to be deployed on the Palestinian side.
    • A just and agreed resolution for the refugees’ problem as specified in the Arab Peace Initiative.
    • Jerusalem will serve as a capital of two States. East Jerusalem capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem capital of Israel. Jerusalem as an open city can be the symbol of peace.

    Mr. Prime Minister,

    Twenty years ago, we concluded with Israel an agreement under international auspices which was intended to take the Palestinian people from occupation to independence. Now, as a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, social, territorial and security spheres. In other words, the P.A. lost its reason d’être…

    Continue reading THE LETTER [leaked draft]: Mahmoud Abbas to Benyamin Netanyahu

Amira Hass on Israel's dangerous complacency

Amira Hass has just written a brilliant free-association analysis in Haaretz which explains part of what is going on here, now:

    “Thinking America guides Jewish-Israeli society in its policy toward our very own red Indians. Why should we be less successful than the United States, Canada or Australia, which, as they came into being and gained world eminence, wiped out – to differing degrees – the societies and communities that lived there before? When it comes to us, why should people not forget what they have forgotten about those countries, which now present themselves as bastions of enlightenment? Now, when the remnants of the first peoples in those countries dare to demand rights, a share in resources and compensation, they no longer endanger whites and their hegemony. And this could be just as true for us. We will hold out another 20 or 50 years, continue robbing the goat and the hill and grinding down the poor, encouraging emigration, buying off and suppressing the leadership, arming and going to war. Until this nuisance of a national, cultural and political entity that is demanding its rights all but disappears. This train of thought is so logical that most Israelis are not even interested in discourse about solutions”

    “Thinking big makes us forget that, unlike the model we admire and seek to emulate, we are a minority in the region. And the region is evolving and demanding a change in the rules of the game that have been so convenient for the United States and Israel. The real question is not whether the solution is ‘two states’ or ‘one state’. History in any case does not recognize end points – every stage leads to another. Visions are also not lacking. The visions must develop and change during the struggle for equality and justice, otherwise they will become gulags. The question was, and is, how much more bloodshed, suffering and disasters will be needed until the Jewish regime of discrimination and separation, which we have created here over the past 64 years, crumbles…

    Continue reading Amira Hass on Israel's dangerous complacency

The Quartet’s 6-month “deadline” comes + goes

Israel is satisfied — very — with the statement released by the Quartet after a meeting today of Quartet “principals” on the sidelines of the G-8 meeting in Washington today.

The Israeli government says it likes the part where the Palestinians are asked to return to direct negotiations without preconditions.

The Palestinians are not happy with the Quartet statement.

What does that tell us?

To compensate for not supporting Palestinian application last September in New York for full membership in the UN, the Quartet drew up a sort of mini one-year “road map” [but didn’t call it anything of the sort] to getting things “back on track”.

However, please do note that this statement does refer to the “roadmap” — though almost everybody thought it was…dead!

Six months have passed — three months ago, the U.S. said deadlines weren’t sacred — and nothing has happened.

But the Quartet “noted with concern the increasing fragility of developments on the ground“… as well it should.

And the Quartet also “expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations

The Quartet is concerned…

Continue reading The Quartet’s 6-month “deadline” comes + goes