Big headlines: “Israeli, Palestinian officials to meet tomorrow in Amman: Meeting to mark first direct talks in over a year.”
Wow! Are we on the way to peace now? Did Abbas back off on his demand that Israel freeze all building past the Green Line before he would sit at the negotiating table?
No way. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is making it clear that this meeting does not constitute re-establishment of negotiations:
“Netanyahu needs to freeze the construction of settlements and accept the ’67 outline for a two-state solution before we return to the negotiations table.”
So what is this meeting? From the Palestinian Arab perspective, it’s, “We’ve been pressured incredibly by the Quartet (especially the US and EU) and Jordan, so we’re going along.” In other words, “Let’s pretend.”
What seems to be the case at this point is that Yitzhak Molcho, the attorney who serves as Israel’s chief negotiator, will be travelling to Amman, for meetings tomorrow or the next day with Erekat and members of the Quartet; the meeting will be hosted by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Reportedly, one meeting will include the Quartet representatives and one will not.
There have been intensive secret preparatory talks involving representatives of all parties in the last few days.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon, writing in the JPost, cite Jordan’s news agency, Petra, which quoted Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhaddad al-Kayed as saying that the purpose of the meeting was to find common ground that would enable a resumption of talks that will “achieve a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord that embodies the two-state solution and addresses all final-status issues by the end of 2012.”
Al-Kayed said that Jordan’s King Abdullah II had pressured PA President Mahmoud Abbas on this when he met with him in Ramallah in late November, and Israeli President Shimon Peres, when he met with him in Amman, just days later.
From the Israeli side, there is no desire to be obstructionist. And particularly because Jordan is prepared to be involved there is an eagerness to cooperate. There are two reasons for this. One is because Abdullah’s readiness to facilitate matters signals a continuing orientation towards moderation and this must be supported. And then, as one Israeli official cited by YNet said, “Jordan and Israel have common strategic interests, even if the Jordanians sometimes acts differently in public.”
I’m picking up varying reports on precisely what the format of the meetings will be. With Jordanians facilitating, I don’t believe it will be quite direct face-to-face.
One matter of significance here is the request by the Quartet that both sides submit “comprehensive proposals on territory and security.” The deadline is January 26, but, as I have recounted, the PA and Israel have been at odds over what this means. The PA, which has submitted a proposal to the Quartet, is charging that Israel is remiss in not having done so.
Israel says, with justification, that the Quartet’s intention is that each side submit its proposal to the other after 90 days of intensive direct talks. The EU is backing the PA version, and US, the Israeli interpretation.
At any rate, thankfully, Israel will not be submitting such a proposal to the Quartet; this would have been unwise.
With regard to this, Abbas told Palestine TV yesterday that, “This deadline [for submitting proposals] ends on January 26, and when the Quartet does not succeed, we will have to wing our next steps…If nothing happens, all options are open…”
Abbas went on to say that a third intifada (violent uprising) was not on the table and he didn’t accept it.
This, as well, is a pretend stance. He had just said, prior to this statement, that all options were open. What is more, I have picked up unconfirmed suggestions that he might be preparing for violence; if and when I receive confirmation I will share more.
What I do think is that violence would be a fall-back position and not the very next thing Abbas is likely to resort to. He is planning another UN gambit:
The Executive Committee of the PLO released a statement on Saturday indicating that it hoped — time unspecified — to go to the Security Council to discuss the matter of settlements and seek action to stop Israel from further building.
Continued settlement building, read the PLO statement, was likely “to destroy all chances of a peace process and the two-state solution.”
Tears at your heart, doesn’t it? The sincerely motivated Palestinian Arabs seeking peace, but unable to find it because of Israeli building. Evidence, once more, of what masters they are at PR, and of how skillfully they milk a situation — saying what they know the world wants to hear.
I can see wheels spinning in the empty heads of officials all over Europe and in the US. Oh! they will exclaim to each other, perhaps we can get Abbas to the table after all. We cannot permit this window of opportunity to close, and so we must press harder on Israel.
It’s a blame game. A different kind of war.
I want to return to the various legal particulars connected to the issue of the Security Council and building by Israel past the Green Line. But here I will note that I have just learned that the US has said it will veto any SC resolution declaring the settlements illegal.
According to Haaretz the PA hopes to launch a diplomatic offensive this year that will put Israel under “international siege.”
“….The campaign will be similar to the one waged against apartheid in South Africa.”
They’re planning all the old goodies, such as trying to bring charges against Israel for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
Just days ago I reported on a bill that was to be advanced, which would require that a Palestinian Arab would have to go to court and provide documentation of ownership of land before Jewish houses on that land could be razed. And that if a certain period had elapsed before the claim had been made, the Arab would receive compensation if he proved ownership, and the houses would be permitted to stand.
Thus I was not pleased to read today that this bill was to be delayed for three months. Why? Because Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the Ministerial Legislative Committee not to approve it at this time.
Ya’akov Katz (Ketzele), who heads the National Union Party, plans to go directly to the Knesset tomorrow and ask that they act on this bill.
Katz’s theory is that the prime minister is trying to delay this legislation long enough so that the “outpost” of Migron could be demolished. And so, a brief aside here:
Migron is a community established in 1999, on a hill northeast of Jerusalem — between the communities of Ofra and Geva Binyamin. Today, with over 250 residents, it is the largest of the so-called “illegal outposts.”
The Ministry of Construction and Housing invested 4.3 million shekels in laying infrastructure for Migron through the Mate Binyamin Regional Council. As Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently said:
“Migron is not an illegal outpost. It’s a community where then-Defense Minister Moshe Arens and the [army’s] GOC Central Command stood beside the cornerstone at its founding.”
But, in 2005, a very dubious “Sasson report” made the claim that it was established on Palestinian land.
And so, in 2006, Peace Now (yes, this group again) went to Court and claimed that Migron had to come down. There was no Palestinian Arab “owner” with documentation. Those Arabs who declared themselves to be the owners lacked papers and ultimately withdrew their claims.
In August of last year, the High Court said the community must be taken down by March 2012. In September, three houses were taken down by the army in the middle of the night, on orders of Defense Minister Barak. Taken down even as a compromise that might have saved those houses was being worked out.
The residue of bitterness is heavy, and the determination to save Migron strong.
Last month, 200 National religious rabbis signed a letter calling on the government to legally authorize Migron and to continue its development. (See http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4166109,00.html)
MK Katz may well be correct in his supposition. Certainly Migron should not come down.
But I have yet another theory about Netanyahu’s delay of the bill to prevent demolition of communities. It simply my own idea:
Netanyahu is facing increased pressure from the Palestinian Arabs with regard to the illegality of “settlements.” Could it be that he does not want to be associated with a bill that saves communities from destruction, when there are charges (undocumented) of their being on “Palestinian land”?
Truly, I hope I’m wrong, for this would be no way to assert Israeli sovereignty and Israeli rights. The way is via strength.
Chazak chazak! (Be strong! Be strong!)
And that leads me to my good news piece for today:
“You have to be strong from the inside,” says Yisrael Pilosof. When he and his siblings were little, they saw a great many amputees in Y. D. Gapim, the prosthetics workshop of his father. Yehuda Pilosof makes artificial limbs that have a global reputation.
Four years ago, Yisrael was ready to join in this work. ” I knew one day I would do this, like my father does. I got to a phase in my life where suddenly I was ready.”
Because of their reputation, the Pilosofs are sought inside of Israel, and from as far away as Haiti and Peru.
The youngest patient they have dealt with is a boy referred from ALYN Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center who was born with no hands: “We started working with him when he was 2½, and now we are ‘growing up’ with him. Every few months we make him new hands because he grows very fast,” Yisrael says.
Once Yehuda provided a new leg for a Jerusalem Arab’s donkey, who otherwise would have been euthanized.
Among the clients of this extraordinary father-son team are some from Germany and the US. “The US and Germany have the best technology in this field,” explained Yehuda. “But the talent of the hands is more important.”
See the entire Israel21C story here: http://www.israel21c.org/people/the-men-who-make-new-limbs
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.