Haaretz’ veteran correspondent Amira Hass, who lives in the West Bank (capital) city of Ramallah, managed to get a hold of the draft Israeli-Palestinian document, which is now posted on the Haaretz website (sorry, but you have to go to the website to find the link – it’s called an_doc.pdf).
Hass says that the draft she obtained showed changes only through 17 November, and not since.
The draft contains bracketed paragraphs, showing the Israeli and Palestinian preferred positions, and some additional proposals from the US and from “SE” — probably meaning Quartet “Special Envoy” Tony Blair.
The Palestinians are (or were, as of 17 November) proposing a “Follow-up” mechanism, meaning that an international conference should convene every three months “to monitor and review progress and to help overcome difficulties”. A Palestinian bracketed paragraph says that “neither side shall initiate or take steps that shall change the status of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip that are not contemplated herein, pending the full implementation of the treaty. All Palestinian prisoners shall be released upon the signing of the treaty. Furthermore, Israel shall make every effort to improve the daily lives and advance the welfare of the Palestinian population pending the full implementation of the Treaty”.
The initial report in Haaretz, accompanying the document, says that the draft did not mention removing roadblocks or checkpoints, and said nothing at all about The Wall, or about the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion of 2004 which said The Wall was illegal under international law, and that states parties to the Geneva Convention were obligated to work against it. The ICJ said that Israel had an obligation to dismantle The Wall — at least, any parts of it that were built on land seized in 1967 (much of The Wall is built on occupied territory), and to dismantle the regime associated with The Wall — as well as to compensate Palestinians whose lives and lands were damaged by The Wall.
Palestinian negotiator Sa’eb Erekat apparently has said something about its not being accurate — but Israeli sources have not disputed the draft.
The document is … well, disappointing. Disillusioning. Actually, really rather bad. As an Israeli friend (who describes himself ironically as “extreme left”) said: “So, what has all the shooting and violence been about, if this is all the Palestinians want?”
Amira Hass herself writes: “If it’s only a draft, one would expect the Palestinians to set the bar higher at the outset, with explicit demands: to freeze the construction in the settlements, to stop land confiscation, to stop building the double road system for settlers and Palestinians, to remove the roadblocks. As far as the Palestinian public is concerned, these are the counter-demands to the Israeli insistence on fighting terror, radicalization, incitement, etc. which are all included in the draft and partly signed by the Palestinians as well. Another glaring omission from the Palestinian draft is the Gaza Strip situation. There is not even vague lip-service to ‘doing everything possible to open the strip passages’ to ease humanitarian suffering. This absence exposes a de facto Palestinian position (denied publicly) of giving up on any Gaza role in a political solution. [n.b., at the UN, at least, the Palestinian observer has twice actively tried to increase Gaza’s political isolation. See UN-Truth.com. The draft document published by Haaretz does mention, as a subordinate phrase, “addressing the situation in Gaza” … ] The absence of an explicit call to freeze construction in the settlements is in keeping with the negotiating tactic of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority as shaped in the Oslo years: There is no point in insisting on interim-period issues, concrete as they may be. This is how the PA officials explained their agreement to dividing the West Bank into zones A, B and C. According to this tactic, when they negotiate on establishing a state they would insist on their demands, which are based on all the international resolutions. At that stage the settlements, fence and roadblocks would be removed in any case. [n.b. sorry, but this argument — or maybe it is this explanation — is incomprehensible to me] This is why the Palestinians are so opposed to the wording, ‘Israel is the state of the Jewish people’, yet don’t insist on including a statement such as ‘construction in the settlements will be suspended until the agreement is signed’. The problem, of course, is that during the ongoing interim period Israel is making huge changes in the West Bank, intended to fundamentally affect the final status map. Thus the Palestinian draft reflects a very weak, even defeatist opening stance, in view of the Palestinians’ expectations of their leadership”. Amira Hass’ analysis of the draft is posted here.
After the Haaretz publication of the draft Israeli-Palestinian document, the Jerusalem Post reported Friday that “The Palestinian Authority is not interested – because of domestic political concerns – in issuing a joint document at the upcoming meeting in Annapolis, according to current assessments in Jerusalem. It is believed to be wary of making any compromises because they would be roundly criticized by Hamas and much of the Palestinian ‘street’. According to sources in Jerusalem, a leak of one of the draft documents that appeared in Haaretz on Thursday – apparently from Palestinian sources – indicated that the Palestinians don’t want a joint document. Palestinians opposed to the document released its contents, according to these assessments, in order to place pressure on the PA not to accept it”… The JPost story is posted here.
Haaretz published another piece on Sunday suggesting that the two “big bosses”, Olmert and Abbas, knew nothing about this lousy draft, and that the negotiators are taking a “time out” while the big bosses decide: “While the two sides have lessened the gaps in their positions in recent days, there still remain divisions over several central issues. Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have been informed of these divisions so that they can make a decision ahead of the meeting in Annapolis, Maryland on Tuesday. ‘We are having a time out’, said a source in Jerusalem on Thursday. ‘The document is ready and awaiting only a few of the leaders’ decisions’. At the moment, the decisions to be made by Olmert and Abbas are relate to the timetable of steps; mention of the Arab peace initiative and the role of the Arab world in the process; and how to deal with the ‘day after’ the Annapolis conference. ‘We have reduced the gaps and some of the divisions have simply been erased from the declaration in order to allow us to move ahead. We are now at the point of deciding on two or three words on each item’, the Jerusalem source said. The Haaretz report that the negotiators are taking a time out is posted here.
Late Sunday afternoon, Haaretz reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters on the plane bringing her, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Israeli Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak to Washington for the Annapolis conference that, in the end, “I think there will be a joint document … this is the statement that will launch the (peace) process, not solve (the conflict).” Livni’s remarks as reported by Haaretz are published here.