“Rejectionist front”: Maariv details Netanyahu’s refusal to directly negotiate with PA

Netanyahu

As Israel’s diplomatic position erodes and the Palestinian Authority’s campaign for the unilateral recognition of a state in the 1967 borders gains ground, the demand for “direct negotiations” has become a central talking point of  Israeli government spokespeople. Here’s the latest example, from a January 2 Associated Press report:

He [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] said he was ready to sit with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for “continuous direct one-on-one negotiations until white smoke is wafting,” an allusion to the Vatican’s custom for announcing a new pope.

“If Abu Mazen agrees to my proposal of directly discussing all the core issues, we will know very quickly if we can reach an agreement,” he said.

This morning’s [January 3] Maariv questions the sincerity of this proposal [full translation at the bottom of this post]:

In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions…This completely contradicts the Israeli position, according to which everything is open for negotiation, and Netanyahu is willing to talk about all the core issues and go into a room with Abu Mazen in order to come out of it with an arrangement.  If this is the case, there is no reason for the Israelis not to willingly accept a review of the Palestinian positions in order to present counter-papers that will make it possible to start bridging the gaps.

Of the examples cited by diplomatic affairs analyst Ben Caspit, one is unambiguously ”direct”:

in a meeting that was held between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.  It has now become apparent that in this meeting, Abu Mazen brought an official Palestinian document for Netanyahu, consisting of two printed pages, with the proposed Palestinian solution on the two issues that the sides were supposed to discuss at the first stage: Security arrangements and borders.  Netanyahu refused to read or discuss the document.  Abu Mazen is said to have left the document at the Prime Minister’s Residence (so that Netanyahu could read it later).

Another, more recent, incident reveals something of the motivation for the Israeli rejections [emphasis mine]:

in the latest meeting that was held between the two negotiators, Dr. Saeb Erekat from the Palestinian side and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho from the Israeli side.  The meeting was held in Washington a few weeks ago, in the presence of the American mediators.  During the meeting, Erekat surprised Molcho, took an official booklet out of his briefcase bearing the logo of the Palestinian Authority and tried to hand it to Molcho.  When the Israeli inquired as to the content of the booklet, Erekat said that this was, in effect, the detailed and updated Palestinian peace plan, with the detailed Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  Molcho refused to take the booklet or examine it.  According to sources who are informed about what took place there, he said to Erekat, and to the Americans, that he could not touch the Palestinian booklet, read it or take it, because as soon as he would do so, “the government will fall.”

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Rejectionist front

Ben Caspit, Maariv, January 3 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he was willing to discuss all the core issues with Abu Mazen in closed meetings, and said that if he were to go into the room with the Palestinian leader he would sit down and discuss all the issues with him “until white smoke rises.”  Ma’ariv has found that in reality, the situation is the complete opposite: In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions.

The most striking case took place in the latest meeting that was held between the two negotiators, Dr. Saeb Erekat from the Palestinian side and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho from the Israeli side.  The meeting was held in Washington a few weeks ago, in the presence of the American mediators.  During the meeting, Erekat surprised Molcho, took an official booklet out of his briefcase bearing the logo of the Palestinian Authority and tried to hand it to Molcho.  When the Israeli inquired as to the content of the booklet, Erekat said that this was, in effect, the detailed and updated Palestinian peace plan, with the detailed Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  Molcho refused to take the booklet or examine it.  According to sources who are informed about what took place there, he said to Erekat, and to the Americans, that he could not touch the Palestinian booklet, read it or take it, because as soon as he would do so, “the government will fall.”

The second case took place in a meeting that was held between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.  It has now become apparent that in this meeting, Abu Mazen brought an official Palestinian document for Netanyahu, consisting of two printed pages, with the proposed Palestinian solution on the two issues that the sides were supposed to discuss at the first stage: Security arrangements and borders.  Netanyahu refused to read or discuss the document.  Abu Mazen is said to have left the document at the Prime Minister’s Residence (so that Netanyahu could read it later).

The various Palestinian documents that are offered to the Israelis from time to time (there are additional examples besides those listed here), also include Palestinian consent to the presence of a “third party” in the Jordan Valley for a long period after the signing of the agreement.  The Palestinians intend to consent to an American or European military presence, or [a force belonging to] NATO or any other party that is acceptable to Israel, in order to guard the crossings, but as stated above, the Israeli side is completely unwilling to open these documents and discuss the issues.

This completely contradicts the Israeli position, according to which everything is open for negotiation, and Netanyahu is willing to talk about all the core issues and go into a room with Abu Mazen in order to come out of it with an arrangement.  If this is the case, there is no reason for the Israelis not to willingly accept a review of the Palestinian positions in order to present counter-papers that will make it possible to start bridging the gaps.  It appears that the statements made by Netanyahu and his associates are completely devoid of content, and what is closer to the truth is what was said by Yitzhak Molcho in the meeting with Erekat: “As soon as I touch this, the government will fall.”  Incidentally, both sides, Erekat and Molcho, agreed to deny the incident and erase it from the protocol if asked about it, but its existence was cross-checked with many sources.  MK Ahmed Tibi also hinted to this in statements he recently made on the Knesset podium.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau stated: “The report is incorrect.”



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