Apr 7, 2009

More Pressure on Israel

By Dr. David Hocking

PA Ultimatum: Three Conditions or No Contact with Israel
by Hana Levi Julian

The Palestinian Authority has set three conditions for any further diplomatic contact with Israel, according to senior PA sources quoted in a report published Tuesday by the Hebrew-language newspaper Ma’ariv.

The ultimatum by the PA demands that Israel freeze all Jewish development in Judea and Samaria, recognize all past signed agreements with the PA and formally recognize “two states for two peoples” – a reference to the establishment of a new PA state.

The move parallels a freeze imposed by the Quartet of peacekeeping nations on international funding to the then-cash-strapped entity after the Hamas terrorist group won PA government elections in 2006. At the time, the Quartet, comprised by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, set three conditions for resumption of funding and normal relations with the PA.

The Quartet demanded that Hamas (1) formally recognize Israel’s right to exist, (2) renounce terrorism, and (3) uphold all agreements with Israel signed by prior PA governments.

The new PA conditions were decided upon by the highest echelon of the Fatah-led government in the wake of Israel’s February 10 national elections.

The decision affects all contact, including the sending of emissaries between the two parties.

Attorney Yitzchak Mocho, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s personal diplomatic emissary to the PA, has been involved in intense consultations as part of Netanyahu’s assessment of the situation.

The international community has been increasing pressure on Israel to move ahead with a “two-step solution,” based on the 2002 Saudi initiative instead of the U.S. Roadmap plan proposed by former President George W. Bush.

The Saudi plan calls for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders and accept as immigrants millions of foreign Arabs who claim to be descendants of those who fled the state during the 1948 War of Independence. This would mean handing over all of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and much of Jerusalem, to be used instead as the capital for a new PA Arab state.

The plan has been endorsed by Quartet Middle East envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President Barack Obama.

U.S. Middle East envoy George C. Mitchell is scheduled to arrive in the region next week for a visit to Israel and the PA to advance the program.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to travel to the U.S. next month for his first meeting with President Obama since both entered office. Netanyahu will also address a gathering of the AIPAC Israel lobby group.

Related Links

What does Netanyahu mean for peace? - Globe and Mail
Syria Praises Obama's Mideast Approach - CBS News
Obama calls for compromise on Mideast peace - Reuters