Israel’s new ideas are crucial for Palestine-Israel talks

Politics Materials 18 April 2009 12:34 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 18 / Trend , U.Sadikhova/

New ideas, proposed by Israel to progress the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, are necessary, but the interests of both parties must be taken into account while introduction of new principles.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that previous attempts to achieve peace in the region have failed and need to develop new ideas at the meeting with the U.S. Special Representative for the Middle East George Mitchell in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.

It is necessary to find new ideas, as the way chosen by the previous Israeli government did lead to nothing," Lieberman said on Thursday.

The only result of the previous policy became the second Lebanese war and the military operation in Gaza, which severed the relations between Qatar and Mauritania. Negotiations with Hamas to release Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit was at a deadlock. 

However, Israeli Foreign Minister did not clarify details of new ideas.

"On the one hand, Lieberman is correct: the steps taken by previous governments have not led to any positive developments. On the other hand, the "new ideas" he has in mind are likely those that would continue to permit Israel's colonization of the west bank, and further jeopardize the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel," the University of California Prof. George Bisharat wrote Trend via e-mail.

"Lieberman offered to start development the economic and social state on the West bank. Lieberman's and Netanyahu's positions are to launch peace process through building ground for establishment of Palestinian state," the Middle East University of Haifa Prof. Amatzia Baram told Trend over phone.

The head of Palestinian delegation to peace talks Saeb Arikat called on the U.S. administration to force Israel to accept Palestinian state at the meeting with Mitchell in Ramallah on Friday, Jerusalem Post said.

This idea was supported by Mitchell, who during a visit to the region twice mentioned that the coexistence of two states is a priority in U.S. policy in the Middle East. Although Netanyahu has supported this idea, he believes that if a Palestinian state is established, Hamas will take control over the West bank.

Before taking the Prime Minister post in April, the right wing Likud party leader Benyamin Netanyahu stressed the necessity to remove economic problems in the West bank and to put an end to Hamas's government in Gaza, before a Palestinian state is established, but did not refuse from peace process.

Peace talks were jeopardized following Our Home - Israel party leader Lieberman's statement about refusing principles achieved at a peace conference in Annapolis in 2007. The then Prime Minister Ehud Olemert and head of Palestinian Autonomy Mahmoud Abbas agreed to establish independent Palestinian state by end of 2008 with mediation of U.S. and Middle East quartet. The talks were suspended after 22-day-long military operation by Israel against Hamas members who fired shells on Israel.

There are few new steps the Government of Israel can take to change the negotiating dynamics until the Palestinians can come to the table with a unified negotiating position, professor and analyst on Arab-Israeli conflict at Washington Institute for Near East Policy Raymond Tanter said.

Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, does not agree to stop armed resistance and is against recognizing Israel while Fatah leader Abbas supports any truce with Israel is Palestinian lands are liberated. 

Until the Palestinians can come to the table with a unified negotiating position, the prospects for meaningful progress in the peace process are grim, Tanter said via e-mail.

Observers say new ideas are crucial for peace process as previous efforts by Olmert and Abbas administration to establish a Palestinian state without solving economic problems and amid ongoing construction of Jewish settlements failed.

Jewish population makes up 40 percent of the West Bank. The number of Jewish population has tripled for the last five years despite the "road map" demands.

Netanyahu offers to establish security and judicial bodies in Palestinian territories and to provide for development of a middle class which must pave a way for a state finally Baram said.

"First steps must be against occupation of West Bank for Jewish settlements and also include setting the different check-points," International Middle East Media Center director George Rishmawi said.

He said the peace process was stalled since the signing of international documents in early 2000s as Israel expanded control over West Bank despite talks were focused on economic stability in the region.

Bisharat said the Palestinian leadership should reaffirm the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to occupied lands.

"Under current circumstances, the "state" envisioned for the Palestinians would be the cemetery, not the vessel for the achievement of [...] rights," he said.

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