Jerusalem – Report: Palestinians Offer Wider Concessions on Land


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau with USA special Envoy George Mitchel, Jerusalem. 20 May 2010. Photo Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90.Jerusalem – Palestinian negotiators have surprised Washington with a bold opening offer to White House peace envoy George Mitchell that includes concessions on territory beyond those offered in past Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, according to officials briefed on the current negotiations.

    The Palestinians’ unexpected offer has been greeted warily in Israel and by some members of the Obama administration, according to these officials. Palestinians believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of reaching a peace deal and thus may have calculated they can make generous offers without having to worry about following through, these officials said.

    Mr. Netanyahu, who met with Mr. Mitchell for three hours on Thursday morning, hasn’t yet offered proposals that address the most sensitive core issues of the conflict, such as borders, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem, according to senior Israeli officials.

    Instead, Israeli negotiators have focused the first two rounds of talks on more peripheral issues, such as water rights, which Israeli officials said is a more practical starting point because there is a higher likelihood of reaching agreement with the Palestinians.

    Water, while technically considered one of the conflict’s four core issues, doesn’t evoke the same heated passions among Israelis and Palestinians.

    “In the framework of these talks, we are ready for the discussion of core issues, but from our point of view water is a win-win topic that can make a real difference in people’s lives,” said a senior Israeli official close to the negotiations.

    Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, while declining to comment on what was discussed privately with Mr. Mitchell, said the Palestinians were pursuing a peace deal in good faith and looking to conclude an agreement as rapidly as possible.

    “We are not going to waste Mitchell’s time,” Mr. Erekat said. “We want Mr. Mitchell to succeed because his success is our freedom.”

    Israel told Mr. Mitchell it may consider offering some confidence-building measures to the Palestinians, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. The statement said Palestinians must make reciprocal gestures, including stopping calls for the international community to isolate and boycott Israel.

    The statement singled out Palestinian lobbying against Israel’s acceptance earlier this month into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the world economic body.

    “Israel expects the Palestinian leadership to work toward creating a positive atmosphere in the talks and not to conduct international activities against Israel,” the statement said.

    Palestinians told Mr. Mitchell they are prepared to match offers that they made to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during peace negotiations in 2008, and may be willing to double the amount of West Bank land to be included in a land swap, according to the officials briefed on the negotiations.

    According to Israeli and Palestinian accounts of the 2008 one-on-one talks, Mr. Abbas offered Mr. Olmert an exchange of 1.9% of West Bank land for an equal amount of Israeli territory. Mr. Olmert countered with a proposed swap of a much larger amount of land. The new Palestinian offer would still fall short of matching the amount of land offered by Mr. Olmert.

    In talks with Mr. Mitchell on Wednesday, the officials briefed on the negotiations said, Mr. Abbas also raised the idea of deploying an international force in the West Bank to help enforce any final agreement. Mr. Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, denied that. Israel has historically opposed such a force, fearing that it would limit Israel’s room to maneuver in response to perceived threats.

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    1. Any land “swap” is not a concession. They’re still insisting on being given the same area; what difference does it make if they take a few acres here instead of there? The total they’re demanding is still the same, and it implies that they have some sort of right to it. And so long as Israel also concedes that they have some sort of right to the land, it can only end one way. Jews have to be strong and insist that the land, the whole land, belongs to us, and the Arabs have no right to any of it. Anything that they may be given would be a gift, not an entitlement.

      • Yeah, who cares if giving up a few dunam of land for a little while until Moshiach arrives might spare the lives and limbs of countless chayalim?

        Hey, they ain’t drafting you out of CH to fight the next Intefada, so who cares? It’ll be someone else’s kid coming home in a body bag, not yours, so why even consider whether this deal can work?

        • The Torah says that giving up territory on the border CANNOT work. It is a halacha pesukah in shulchan aruch that nobody can dispute. If goyim threaten a border town, then they must be resisted even on Shabbos, even if they loudly declare that they have NO INTENTION OF HARMING ANYONE. Their declaration of peaceful intentions make no difference whatsoever. They must not be allowed to encroach on the border, lest the country become easier for them to conquer. And to prevent that one must fight even on Shabbos, so this is not some medrash somewhere, it’s serious halacha. How much more so with people who openly declare their intention of slaughtering the Jews.

          • Yeah, yeah, same old Milhouse. Paskening dinai nefashos for the chayalim from the comfort of Crown Heights, ir hakodesh.

            I guess rav shach ztzk”l didn’t know as much shulchan aruch as you do.

            For that matter, I guess rav YD Soloveitchik didn’t know as much shulchan aruch as you do.

            So what if the lives of the chayalim are at stake in making the correct decision. Your kid isn’t one of them, so who cares?

            • The halacha is there for all to see. Nobody has yet refuted it. It’s a clear din, and if some rov or other has contradicted it then it’s up to them to justify themselves. There are no other opinions, other interpretations; this is the halacha, and that’s all there is to it.

            • It wasn’t ‘some rav’ as you put it. It was Morainu HaRav Shach, ztzk”l.

              Unless you think you know more shulchan aruch than he did, it is your problem to figure out why you don’t understand his torah, not his problem to explain himself to ‘some millhouse’ hiding in crown heights.

            • I agree with Milhouse on this. What did HaRav Shach actually say? You really think that he was for this phony peace process?

              I would be willing to give up much more then a few dunam of land until Moshiach comes if it might spare the lives and limbs of countless chayalim, but here is the point; this peace process has cost much more lives and limbs then if it never would have taken place. Before the peace talks in Madrid, the Arabs had only rocks, after that Israel gave it weapons and trained its “police”. Should we start this craziness again? What would HaRav Shach say? Fool me once, fool me twice…

            • Then you don’t agree with Milhouse, you agree with me.

              I agree that Rav Shach ztzk”l might have said at this point that land for peace is mutar but this isn’t peace, so don’t do it.

              Milhouse believes Rav Shach ztzk”l was wrong in his psak halachah, which was that for true peace we can trade parts of eretz yisroel.

              You and I seem to agree that Rav Scach’s ztzk”l was not ‘some rav or other’ and that his opinion being at odds with Milhouse’s is a kasha on Milhouse, not on Morainu ztzk”l.

    2. Why exactly does the world want another failed Arab state that is going to end up contributing nothing and create only headaches? Its like suggesting that we make some new African countries.

    3. A peace where the blood-thirsty Arabs get Judea and Samaria is no peace at all. Unless the Arabs agree to a demilitarized state. Think that would happen? When pigs learn to fly.


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