Before and after Annapolis

By Ted Belman

Erekat: We won’t accept Jewish Israel. At least Olmert said this is a precondition. But he is still going to Annapolis.

Rice invited Syria to attend the conference and gave it some sweeteners. Israel takes umbrage. Why so, it was only a few weeks ago that Barak was saying that Israel should talk to Syria.

And now according to Haaretz,

    Olmert says Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to begin talks on a final status agreement before the implementation of the first stage of the road map – eliminating terror and dismantling the settlements .

This is contrary to a long standing policy of Israel to not discuss final status issues until Phase I is completed. To my mind to do so is to deny the Roadmap in part while affirming it in part. This is double talk. Either the Roadmap rules or it doesn’t. You can’t pick and choose without changing the Roadmap.

    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.

It seems to me that that is what they have been doing leading up to Annapolis.

    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.

What this hair splitting is about is to delineate the parameters of discussion for the final status issues by way of declaration prior to Annapolis and then to negotiate within those parameters after.

    Olmert said there would be a period of time, which he called a “buffer zone,” between the agreement and its implementation. “If stage one of the road map is implemented – if the Palestinians dismantle terror infrastructure – then and only then will Israel have to implement the agreement.”

I am not assured because during this period, Israel may not have to implement it, it will have to honour it by not doing anything contrary to it. This could last for years.

    According to Olmert, “the starting point of the negotiations will be the recognition that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.

I doubt that we will have an unequivocal statement by Abbas to this effect before negotiations start. So in fact negotiations will start and continue long before such a recognition is obtained. Keep in mind that Hamas will never agree to this and Abbas really does not have a mandate to agree.

    The end point of the talks, Olmert said, would be the declaration of the end of the conflict and demands.

This remains to be seen. Has Abbas said it yet.

    Olmert plans to bring the agreement reached at the end of the negotiations to the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and the Quartet, to ensure the widest possible international support.

This scares me the most. Olmert wants to build up a huge head of steam before taking it to the people. He wants to make it as difficult as possible for the people to turn it down.

    Olmert also told the Knesset committee that the U.S. has not prohibited Israel from conducting talks with Syria, but rather is asking in another way that Israel avoid such talks.

    “A formula can be found for Syria to participate in the conference,” Olmert told the committee. “I believe that the Annapolis summit could, under certain conditions, bring about a renewal of talks with Syria when the time comes, and that is of value for Israel.”

So DEBKA was wrong to say Rice Euchred Israel by inviting Syria.

November 13, 2007 | 8 Comments »

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