Monday, September 6, 2010

Middle East peace talks: Where they stand

As the Obama administration relaunches direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the BBC's Paul Reynolds outlines where the three parties stand on the core issues of the conflict.

JERUSALEM

Israel
The Israeli government is unwilling to divide Jerusalem, held to be the political and religious centre of the Jewish people. It stands by the 1980 basic Israeli law that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel". In the past there has been room for manoeuvre on the margins. In talks in 2000 and 2007, the then Israeli governments proposed exchanging some outlying annexed districts.

Palestinians
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which was controlled by Jordan before being captured by the Israelis in 1967, as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Old City contains the third holiest place in Islam, the al-Aqsa mosque, and the Dome of the Rock, from where Mohammed is said to have visited heaven on his winged steed Burak.

United States
The US does not recognise the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv. President Barack Obama has opposed the building of housing for Israelis in East Jerusalem though he said before becoming president that dividing the city would be "very difficult to execute".

BOARDERS

Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts that there should be a Palestinian state and that there will have to be an Israeli withdrawal from parts at least of the West Bank (captured by Israel in 1967) to accommodate this. Israel has already withdrawn from Gaza. Israel would like the borders to include Jerusalem and the major Israeli settlements that have grown up on the West Bank.

Palestinians
They want the talks to start from the basic position that all the land occupied by Israel in 1967 belongs to a future Palestine. Any land given to the Israelis would have to be compensated for by a balanced land swap.

United States
The US agrees that the starting point but not the end point should be the 1967 lines and that a land swap will have to be the basis of any agreement. It will encourage this.

SETTLEMENTS

Israel
The Israeli government insists on keeping the major Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Any departure from this would break up the coalition which forms the government. An immediate problem is that an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlements is due to run out on 26 September.

Palestinians
Ideally, the Palestinians would like all settlements to be abandoned as they were in Gaza. However, they appear to accept that some will have to stay but they will argue for a minimum number and a land swap for any that are left. They threaten to leave the talks if the Israeli moratorium is ended on 26 September.

United States
As with the annexation of East Jerusalem, the US has not recognised the international legitimacy of the Israeli West Bank settlements. But it accepts their reality and will press for compromise. It is also trying to reach a compromise on the moratorium problem.

REFUGEES

Israel
Israel rejects the idea that Palestinian refugees from previous wars should be allowed any "right of return" to their former homes. They say that this is a device to destroy the state of Israel by demography in order to re-establish a unitary state of Palestine. For that reason Mr Netanyahu has called for Israel to be recognised as a Jewish state.

Palestinians
Formally, they maintain the "right of return", arguing that without it a great injustice would not be put right. However, there has been regular talk among Palestinians that this "right" could be met by compensation. They refuse to recognise the concept of Israel as a "Jewish state", saying that this is unnecessary and that it ignores the Israeli-Arab citizens of Israel.

United States
The US understands the Israeli refusal to take back refugees and hopes that this can be resolved by compensation and development aid for this whose cannot go back to their previous family homes.

Link to article here



I certainly don't know if the above information is accurate or up-to-date. It apparently was written a few days prior to the Washington DC meeting with Obama, but more than likely has not changed in any significant way.

Don

2 comments:

Mid Stutsman said...

We listened to David Horowitz from the Jerusalem Post give his thoughts and he had very interesting things to share. Namely that Israel has been the one reaching out and going the distance with Abbas while the PA has not even been responding, let alone giving an indication that they are ready for peace or living peacefully beside Israel. We need to keep praying for Bibi that the Lord will give him wisdom to continue, for no one will be able to say it was Israel's fault that the talks failed... (oh they will find a reason, but it will be lame given the extent Bibi has gone to try to make this work.

Don said...

Yes, Israel has been reaching out above and beyond to negotiate a peaceful solution, but the PA will never recognize Israel as a state. The PA will not agree to live peaceably beside the Jewish people. They want Israel and the Jewish people destroyed - that's their idea of peace in the land.

If the PA did agree to a settlement involving the receipt of additional Israeli land, it would only serve as a new front position from which to force new violence and negotiations toward their goal of removing even more of Israel.

Don

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