Aug 19, 2009

Obama: Palestinian State Now, Israel's Security Later

Aaron Klein
By Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – The U.S. is seeking a deal that will set the final borders of a Palestinian state immediately and negotiate other issues, such as security and water, at a later date, according to a senior Egyptian official speaking to WND.

The Egyptian official is in Washington alongside his country's president, Hosni Mubarak, who met with President Obama yesterday. The official spoke on condition his name be withheld since he was not authorized to discuss the subjects on the record yet.

The Egyptian official said Obama stressed the U.S. is applying "huge" pressure for Israel to agree to a complete freeze of Jewish construction in the strategic West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. He said the U.S. is demanding a two-year freeze, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants six months.

The Egyptian official said the Palestinian Authority is seeking to use concessions from former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a starting point in new talks with Netanyahu.

Olmert reportedly offered the Palestinians not only 95 percent of the West Bank and peripheral eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, but also other territories never before offered by any Israeli leader. The offer includes parts of the Israeli Negev desert as well as Beit Shean in the Jordan Valley just outside the Dead Sea.

WND reported exclusively last November that then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice collected notes and documents from Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams to ensure the incoming U.S. administration would not need to start negotiations from scratch. PA sources said Rice's notes have already been used by Obama's team as the starting points for new Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Documents noting agreements during previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been used in subsequent talks, sometimes as starting points. According to both Israeli and PA sources, American officials took detailed notes of talks at U.S.-brokered negotiations at Camp David in 2000 and then used points of agreement on key issues, such as borders, during recent rounds of intense Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Israeli and PA sources said Rice's notes document agreements that would seek an eventual major West Bank withdrawal and would grant the PA permission to open official institutions in Jerusalem.

Related Links

Analysis: President wants Palestinian concessions - AP
Obama's main man in the Middle East? - Jerusalem Post
Mubarak Pressed White House for Negotiations Over Palestinian State - Wall Street Journal
Obama Optimistic About Mideast Peace - Washington Post