Dan Meridor: another way to propose an interim agreement

A veteran Israeli politician, Dan Meridor, who speaks in sober and measured tones, says that the Palestinians have twice [in 2000, and in 2008] rejected proposals that would have brought about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meridor explained, in an interview [published by Al-Monitor] with Mazal Mualem, chief political analyst of Maariv, why this convinces him that only an interim agreement is possible now:

Al-Monitor: Where did negotiations with the Palestinians disappear to in the last four years?

Meridor: “The election campaign here created the illusion as if there is no Palestinian problem. Except for [Tzipi] Livni, no-one talked about it. A kind of fallacy was created here, that we can live with the situation for generations, and that is definitely not correct. It is an anomaly. For forty-five years we have an anomaly, and it is not important who is right. I think that we are right, but things can’t continue this way. Therefore I hope that the government that will be formed now will deal with it seriously, because a continuation of the current situation is dangerous for Israel.

There is an illusion that since there is no terror, we can continue this way. I think that the thwarting of terror is not only our success, but also Abu Mazen’s strategy. But if we continue in the same path we are on today, without clear borders, in the end we’ll have one state from Jordan to the sea, and this, in my eyes, represents a threat to the entire Zionist vision. I think that the Palestinians also have an interest in changing the current situation”.

Al-Monitor: So what actually happened here?

Meridor: “Four years ago, we ‘had arrived’. [Former Prime Minister] Olmert proposed a final settlement. He offered [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen the entire territory, including partitioning Jerusalem, thus bringing an end to the conflict. Abu Mazen didn’t accept it. That poses a very big question for us. Why didn’t Abu Mazen grab that proposal with two hands, after he had dedicated dozens of years of his life to the Palestinian issue?

I don’t have a definite answer, but the fact is that, until today, the two very far-reaching proposals submitted by Israel to bring, at last, an end to the conflict encountered Palestinian rejection. I was involved in one of them, with [then Prime Minister Ehud] Barak and [then Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat in Camp David [in 2000]. The second one, proposed by Olmert, I also observed from close up. I am ready even tonight to sign an agreement, but I am not convinced that the Palestinian side is ready”.

What does he think should be done?  Well, Meridor says that he does not want an interim [as opposed to final] agreement, but says that seems to be the only solution possible — at least for now. He says that Israel should announce an end to any further settlements [outside of Jerusalem, and already-existing settlements, which Israel intends to keep…]

And, he says, “We need to start to decide on the border, not to wait. An international agreement that is in the process of being formed is that the border will not be exactly like the 1967 borders, but will be based on 1967. That appears in Obama’s speech of two years ago, and appears in a letter from [then President] Bush to [then Prime Minister] Sharon. It even appears in the Geneva Accord of [Palestinian politician] Yasser Abd-Rabbo and [former Knesset Member] Yossi Beilin … Netanyahu delivered the Bar Ilan speech [2009], then went to the Knesset and said: I want the [settlement] blocs and Jerusalem. We froze [construction in] the settlements for 10 months, but Abu Mazen didn’t come. Therefore I don’t blame Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], precisely because we went far on this issue and you have to be fair”.   These remarks are posted on the Al-Monitor website, here.

Now, the Palestinians have said they absolutely do not want either an interim agreement, or a provisional state [another aspect of the same proposal, nowadays].   They have also been astonished at the suggestion that both Yasser Arafat [in July 2000] and Mahmoud Abbas [in September 2008] said “No”.  At least, they might agree, neither leader said “Yes”.  That, they explain, is because the Americans [the brokers, both times] and the Israeli negotiators knew that these proposals did not meet the Palestinian bottom line.  In 200 + 2001, Arafat was waiting for a better offer.  In September 2008, Mahmoud Abbas was waiting for Ehud Olmert to be indicted on  charges of corruption — so, the Palestinians concluded, Olmert’s offer wasn’t firm or reliable — and in any case a better offer might yet appear on the horizon.  But, the Palestinian negotiators agree, they were close, at least in 2008.  [We have reported here and on our sister blog, www.un-truth.com, that the differences were narrowed to something less than 3% of the West Bank territory.]

And, the Palestinian negotiators have said that they want negotiations to resume at the point they ended in 2008 [with the same proposals on the table] —  but it is the Israeli government negotiators who have refused…

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