As Arab and Israeli representatives gather in Annapolis at the behest of the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to hammer out a joint Israeli-Palestinian statement on the shape of future peace talks, it is useful to look at the core issues of permanent status negotiations. While the media tends to focus on Palestinian views and demands, citing settlements, borders, Jerusalem and refugees, ignored are the core Israeli concerns, namely Arab rejection of a Jewish state and the dismantlement of the terrorist infrastructure, as stipulated in past agreements. (For example, see AP’s “Most Contentious Issues Between Israelis and Palestinians“) Similarly, the media often forgets or ignores the background and history of final status negotiations and key issues involved.
Below are links to informative articles and CAMERA backgrounders that provide basic context frequently ignored regarding major issues to be discussed:
Although acceptance of Judaism’s religious and historical ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount has always been key to any peace negotiations, scant coverage has been given to Arab rejection of both.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat bluntly stated:
Israel can define itself however it sees fit; and if it wishes to call itself a Jewish state, so be it … But the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel’s Jewish identity.
And according to Haaretz, the Arab League insists its decision to attend the conference does not indicate it is willing to normalize relations with Israel.
Bernard Lewis explains how negotiations are “foredoomed” without Arab acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state. And CAMERA’s backgrounder indicates how negotiations can be stymied by Palestinian and Muslim rejection of Israel’s historic and religious connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Palestinian Terrorism and Incitement
All peace negotiations are predicated upon the Road Map which stipulates “visible” Palestinian “efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere” and an end by “all official Palestinian institutions” of “incitement against Israelis.” The Palestinians have yet to comply, but little is seen or heard in the media about this failure.
Negotiations on final borders were always to be predicated on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which stipulates that borders be “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
What often seems to be missing from coverage of the issue is the intent of Resolution 242’s own drafters who did not envision Israel withdrawing to the 1967 boundaries and carefully worded the resolution to ensure that Israel withdraw to new defensible borders rather than the previous insecure 1949 armistice lines.
President George W. Bush in an April 14, 2004 letter to then-Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon similarly declared his vision of the outcome of final status negotiations, stating that it was “unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”
One of the most difficult issues on the agenda is the status of Jerusalem Below is a backgrounder on the conflict over Jerusalem.
The future of Israeli settlements in land acquired by Israel in the 1967 war is another contentious issue that will be discussed. Below is a backgrounder on the debate over settlements.