Francis Boyle: The PLO was not invited to Annapolis!

The Global Research website, which describes itself as the product of “an independent research and media group of writers, scholars journalists and activists”, has just written about the forthcoming Annapolis meeting that “it seems the US has invited practically everyone in the world to this fandango — from Poland to Sweden to Slovenia to Yemen to the World Bank and the IMF… except the PLO — which is the only body that has the authority and international standing to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people! In addition, the elected government of Hamas is also not invited, of course”.

The Global Research website has posted an open letter from Francis A. Boyle, an attorney who helped advise the Palestinian team at the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. (The Palestinians participated as part of the Jordanian delegation because Israel refused at the time to deal with the PLO.)

“Nov 23, 2007

My Dear Palestinian Friends:

As you can see from the US Government’s list of Invitees to the Annapolis Conference, it has only invited the Palestinian Authority, not the PLO. But only the PLO has the authority under international law to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian People and the State of Palestine. That is why the Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement in the name of the PLO. The Palestinian Authority has no authorization under international law to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian People, let alone the State of Palestine, whose Provisional Government is the PLO Executive Committee. Indeed, an entire series of UN General Assembly Resolutions have made it clear that only the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian People. Hence this delegation of the Palestinian Authority to the Annapolis Conference has no legal authority under international law to conclude anything on behalf of the Palestinian People, let alone the State of Palestine. I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to bring this matter to the attention of the Palestinian People around the world.

Thank you.

Francis A. Boyle

The open letter written by Francis A. Boyle is posted here.

The Global Research website describes him as “Professor of International Law and Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations and His Excellency Dr. Haidar Abdul Shaffi (1991-1993)”.

While it is true that the PA and not the PLO has been invited to the Annapolis event, it is also the case that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) wears both hats — he is the elected (January 2005) President of the Palestinian Authority that was created by the Oslo Accords negotiated between Israel and the PLO. And, he was also selected as Yasser Arafat’s successor to head the PLO.

The draft of the document [Palestinian preferred term] or statement [Israeli preferred term] that has been negotiated by teams of Israelis and Palestinians in advance of the Annapolis meeting [see Palestine-Mandate post here.] says that “it is being drafted by the representatives of the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, represented respectively by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority”…

Uri Avnery on Annapolis – and acknowledging Israel as a Jewish State

Here are some excerpts from Uri Avnery’s weekly article sent out on 17 November — this week he focuses on ANNAPOLIS:

“…As the saying goes: One fool throws a stone into the water, a dozen wise men cannot retrieve it. Once the ‘meeting’ had been announced, it became an important enterprise. The experts of all parties started to work frantically on the undefined event, each trying to steer it in the direction which would benefit them the most … The three poker players are going to sit down together, pretending to start the game, while none of them has a cent to put on the table …
First the participants were to deal with the ‘core issues’. Then it was announced that a weighty declaration of intentions was to be adopted. Then a mere collection of empty phrases was proposed. Now even that is in doubt. Not one of the three leaders is still dreaming of an achievement. All they hope for now is to minimize the damage – but how to get out of a situation like this?

“As usual, our side is the most creative at this task. After all, we are experts in building roadblocks, walls and fences. This week, an obstacle larger than the Great Wall of China appeared. Ehud Olmert demanded that, before any negotiations, the Palestinians ‘recognize Israel as a Jewish state’. He was followed by his coalition partner, the ultra-right Avigdor Liberman, who proposed staying away from Annapolis altogether if the Palestinians do not fulfill this demand in advance. Let’s examine this condition for a moment: The Palestinians are not required to recognize the state of Israel. After all, they have already done so in the Oslo agreement – in spite of the fact that Israel has yet to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own based on the Green Line borders. No, the government of Israel demands much more: the Palestinians must now recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish state’.

“Does the USA demand to be recognized as a ‘Christian’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon state’? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a ‘Communist state’? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a ‘Catholic state’, or Pakistan as an ‘Islamic state’? Is there any precedent at all for a state to demand the recognition of its domestic regime? Te demand is ridiculous per se. But this can easily be shown by analysis ad absurdum.

“What is a ‘Jewish state’? That has never been spelled out. Is it a state with a majority of Jewish citizens? Is it ‘the state of the Jewish people’ – meaning the Jews from Brooklyn, Paris and Moscow? Is it ‘a state belonging to the Jewish religion’ – and if so, does it belong to secular Jews as well? Or perhaps it belongs only to Jews under the Law of Return – i.e. those with a Jewish mother who have not converted to another religion? These questions have not been decided. Are the Palestinians required to recognize something that is the subject of debate in Israel itself?

“According to the official doctrine, Israel is a ‘Jewish and democratic state’.  What should the Palestinians do if, according to democratic principles, some day my opinion prevails and Israel becomes an ‘Israeli state’ that belongs to all its citizens – and to them alone? (After all, the US belongs to all its citizens, including Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, not to mention ‘Native-Americans’.)

“The sting is, of course, that this formula is quite unacceptable to Palestinians because it would hurt the million and a half Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The definition ‘Jewish state’ turns them automatically into – at best – second class citizens. If Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues were to accede to this demand, they would be sticking a knife in the backs of their own relatives. Olmert & Co. know this, of course. They are not posing this demand in order to get it accepted. They pose it in order that it not be accepted. By this ploy they hope to avoid any obligation to start meaningful negotiations”…

With all due deference to the great, the very great, Uri Avnery, three comments here:
(1) It is clearly true that there are differing “visions” in Israel about what is a Jewish State. The Palestinians are not obliged to say they prefer one, or the other. That is up to the Jewish citizens of Israel to decide. I wish it would be de-linked from the very ugly issue of numbers — from “demography”. In my view, this would remove any further necessity for anxious and fearful Israelis to fantasize about population transfer, or worse. And, if Israel then acts as though being a Jewish state means it can expel all non-Jews who are its citizens and residents, it will not only have international public opinion to deal with (something to which Israel has been exceedingly sensitive), it will also have international law. This will not happen. The Palestinians could, moreover, explicitly seek international guarantees that this will not happen — and those international guarantees would almost certainly then be forthcoming.

(2) As to Avnery’s suggestion that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would suddenly mean that Israel’s 1.25 million Arab citizens would then consequently become second class citizens — well, I can only say that this is the case already, and has been so since 1948. It is a problem that Israel NGOs and civil society have been increasingly attempting to address in a very concerted way over the past year or so.

(2a) While, as Avnery says, it is doctrine that Israel is (both) a Jewish and democratic state, it is not law.  The proclamation of the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 says only that Israel will be a Jewish state.

(3) The Palestinians have recognized Israel since well before the Oslo Accords. The Palestinians have also already recognized Israel as a Jewish State. This was officially done in the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, which recognized UN General Assembly Resolution 181 that partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into two states — one Jewish and one Arab.

Annapolis preparations reportedly "moving ahead"

Contrary to other reports of pessimism (which is definitely greater on the Palestinian side), Kol Israel radio reported this evening that “sources in Jerusalem say US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s decision not to visit the region before the summit signals that preparations are moving ahead and there is no need for intervention”.

The Kol Israel story also reported that “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert planned to convene the Israeli negotiating team headed by Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni at his residence Saturday night as part of preparations for the planned Annapolis peace summit. Senior officials and advisors from the prime minister’s office, foreign ministry and defense ministry are expected to take part. A Kol Yisrael reporter says the consultations will address gestures towards the Palestinians … ”

An intellectual analysis of successful peace negotiations

Helena Cobban, the journalist and Quaker friend, wrote on her Just World News blog on 10 November about analyzing the possible success of any peace negotiation — such as the forthcoming Annapolis event:

“I went to a panel discussion at the US Institute of Peace yesterday on the topic of ‘Constructing an Effective Ceasefire’. Now, I know that what the Palestinians and the Bushites are hoping for from the upcoming “Annapolis” meeting is something of considerably greater impact than merely a ceasefire. Indeed, the PA still avers it is insistent on tangible and monitorable progress towards the final peace agreement with Israel that is, surely, the desire of the vast majority of the people in the world. The government of Israel– consistent with many years of foot-dragging now– wants to move much slower than that. (That foot-dragging has allowed government-subsidized Israeli colonial corporations to implant large numbers of illegal colonies inside the occupied Palestinian territories. Coincidence, or what?) But still, even though I recognize there are differences between a ceasefire and a final peace agreement, I thought it would be good to trek along to USIP and catch up with some state of the art in negotiations theory.

[The two speakers at this conference were Dr. Ranabir Samaddar, head of the Calcutta Research Group, and Nita Yawanarajah, “a staff member of the Policy Planning and Mediation Support Unit, at the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, described as ‘involved in UN negotiations and assessments of ceasefires in the Balkans and Sudan and …developing guidelines for ceasefire negotiations’.”]

Cobban wrote: “Both took a cool, analytical look at what makes peace negotiations (in general, and not just those aiming at temporary ceasefires) effective. Both looked dispassionately at the political components of successful peace negotiations. Samaddar noted, for example, that in government-insurgent conflicts, the governments have a strong interest in using the ceasefire to bring about the complete demilitarization of the insurgent side without opening up any of the insurgents’ grievances, while the insurgents seek strongly to use the ceasefire to get their political issues onto the table without, if possible, disarming. Nothing new there. (Except perhaps to the people across in the US State Department who continue to parrot the Israeli line that all of Israel’s opponents need to disarm completely– at both the military and the ideological levels– before they can even be admitted to any negotiation.) A successful negotiation would, the two panelists said, be one that laid out and won agreement to measurable, monitored steps being taken in parallel by each of the parties, so that neither would end up feeling taken advantage of by the negotiating process itself
Continue reading An intellectual analysis of successful peace negotiations

Rice is not traveling to region this weekend

It had been expected that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice would return to Jerusalem (and Ramallah) around the 15th of November, in what was expected to be a final pre-Annapolis push.

But, Kol Israel Radio reports this morning that Israeli officials have been informed that Rice has no plans to travel here in the next few days.

In what may seem like a contradiction — as Rice’s presence was supposed to be supportive in helping Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to overcome their differences — this is being taken as a confirmation of reports this week that progress between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators has not been sufficient.

It is one more signal that the Annapolis peace conference (or “meeting”) may be held later than reported.

But, as Rice indicated yesterday, she expects that the Annapolis event will take place.

Rice: invitations haven't been issued yet

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice did an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Nashville, Tennessee on 13 November 2007. Here is an excerpt:

QUESTION: We’ve seen reports that it looks like now the Annapolis meeting is going to be a day [just one day]. That’s what’s being reported.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let’s wait to — first, to call it; and secondly, to invite people; and then to schedule it.

QUESTION: So it’s not even safe to say that it’s definitely happening?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, it’s going to happen.


SECRETARY RICE: But look, we’ll look at the scheduling for it. I don’t expect it to be going on for several days, most certainly.


SECRETARY RICE: It’s, after all, an opportunity to launch a process, not to try and conclude it at Annapolis.
Continue reading Rice: invitations haven't been issued yet

A temporal "buffer zone" — but no timeline

Haaretz today is reporting more details from the testimony given by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.

The Haaretz story says that “Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to a new plan that skips over the first stage of the road map – eliminating terror and dismantling the settlements – according to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Since the unveiling of the road map in 2002, Israel has been opposed to negotiations on a final-status agreement before the first stage of the road map was implemented. However last week the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams agreed that following the Annapolis summit scheduled for the end of the month, negotiations on a final-status arrangement would begin. The agreement states that if a final-status accord is reached, it would be subject to the implementation of the road map by the parties. Israel and the Palestinians entered an intensive stage of the negotiations on Monday in a bid to formulate a declaration to be presented at the Annapolis conference. The negotiating teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmad Qureia for the Palestinian Authority, met in Jerusalem and were to meet again Tuesday. U.S. Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice will decide based on the progress of the parties whether to come to the region again next week.
Continue reading A temporal "buffer zone" — but no timeline

Salam Fayyad lists his priorities

The Ma’an independent Palestinian news agency, based in Bethlehem, is reporting today that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told a re-convened group of Palestinian journalists that “my government’s first duty is to end the closure and pay the salaries that are due. But this is still the beginning. We are waiting for the forthcoming Paris conference. We intend to start building industrial areas so workers have the chance to work. The first one will be near Jenin.

Fayyad also said: “The most important thing now regarding Gaza is to end the siege”. Ma’an also reported that with regard to the Gaza border crossings, Fayyad said, “We are ready to take over these border crossings but Israel has refused and is trying to spread rumours that it is the Ramallah government who has refused to take control of these crossings so Israel can exonerate itself.”

Fayyad told the journalists and editors that “My government is working hard to arrest those who create security problems. We are going to repair all eight of the security buildings destroyed by the Israeli army. We must exercise our authority not only regarding weapons but with the courts and judicial system.”

Ma’an also said that “Fayyad seemed pessimistic about Israel and his dealings with them. He gave many examples of how Israel is trying to prove that his government is weak. He gave an example the Israeli army withdrawing from Nablus and despite their agreement the Israeli army continued their incursions and targeted assassinations with the intention of damaging the PA. The prime minister said he wasn’t counting on the Annapolis conference and the journalists laughed when he said ‘Nablus for me is more important than Annapolis’.”
The Ma’an report on Fayyad’s roundtable with Palestinian editors and journalists is here.

The Palestinian Authority has expressed outrage and concern that the Israeli Defense Force continues to operate in Nablus between midnight and 6am, during which time the Palestinian security services are supposed to stay indoors. By 9:26 on Tuesday morning, Ma’an reported today, “Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians on Tuesday after several military vehicles raided the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank”.

Olmert endorses calls for Palestinian pledge that Israel is a Jewish State

Haartez newspaper is reporting on Monday that Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has joined Defense Minister Ehud Barak in saying that Palestinian assurances should be obtained at Annapolis concerning Israel’s existence as “a Jewish State”:

“Olmert held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the Annapolis summit and the negotiations toward a final-settlement agreement. [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni, [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, [and] the chief of staff and the heads of the intelligence services attended the meeting. Olmert told the gathering that immediately at the start of negotiations following the summit, Israel will set a precondition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as ‘a Jewish state’.”
Continue reading Olmert endorses calls for Palestinian pledge that Israel is a Jewish State

Abbas trying to keep the lid on

In a brilliantly positioned address to the Palestinian people today, at the public inauguration of the memorial to the late Yasser Arafat that has just been unveiled in the Presidential peace conference.
According to Haaretz, “Abbas said the Palestinians were working with Arab nations and the international community to make it a success. ‘We see this conference as a historic opportunity to open a new page in the history of the Middle East based on the establishment of our independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital’, he said. Along with statehood, Abbas said, Palestinians sought the ‘return of Arab land occupied in (the 1967 Middle East war)’ and peace for ‘us and the Israelis and the peoples of this region’. Though he saved his most strongly worded criticism for his Palestinian rivals, Abbas also criticized Israel, calling its West Bank separation fence the ‘ugly separation apartheid wall’ and saying Palestinians remained committed to removing all settlements and checkpoints in the West Bank.  Abbas gave no indication in his address whether progress had been made in narrowing differences with Israel, with whom the Palestinians are expected to draft a joint document that will serve as the basis for the Annapolis conference. ‘We reiterate to you, Abu Ammar, and our people that we are adhering to our national principles’, Abbas said, using Arafat’s nom de guerre. They included, he said, a ‘just solution’ to the issue of Palestinian refugees, the release of Palestinians prisoners held by Israel and the uprooting of Israel’s West Bank fence, settlements, outposts and military checkpoints”.
Haaretz’s account of Abbas’ remarks at the inauguration of the Arafat memorial is posted here.

Meanwhile, here is an excerpt of what U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said in a Sunday interview with George Stephanopolous on ABC Television today (most of the conversation focussed on the situation in Pakistan, then a little bit on Iran, and this came last):

QUESTION: You’ve also been working very hard on the Middle East peace process, gone to the Middle East eight times in the last year, three times in the last two months. And you’re trying to put together at least a preliminary peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, either later this month or early next month. Have the invitations gone out? Will the conference take place?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, the invitations have not gone out. We still expect the conference to take place. The President has said this fall; that means by the end of the year. We’re working very hard with the parties and with the regional actors to prepare the conference. And so we will take our time in preparing the conference, but I have to say that the parties are exhibiting seriousness of purpose.  I think they want to end their conflict.  And if we can, as Prime Minister Olmert said, use Annapolis to launch the negotiations for the establishment of a two-state solution, that will be a very, very good step for the people of Israel, the people of the Palestinian territories and for the international community as a whole.

QUESTION: You said you wanted to include the neighbors of Israel and Palestine.  Does that include Syria?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we’ve not sent any invitations, but we did make clear that it would be likely that members of the Arab Follow-up Committee, the committee that was appointed by the Arab League to follow up on the Arab Peace Initiative — it was originally proposed by the Saudis, this peace initiative — that those members would likely be invited. Syria is a member of that committee. And let me just say something, George. Nobody would even think of trying to hide that there are other tracks that ultimately lead to a comprehensive peace. Now, in this case, the Israeli-Palestinian comprehensive peace — the Israeli-Palestinian track is the most mature. It’s the one that’s moving forward. This meeting is about Israel and the Palestinians. But we understand that ultimately there has to be a comprehensive peace and there has to be progress on the other tracks as well”.

(Transcript or Rice’s remarks was prepared by the U.S. Department of State and sent out by email.)