CMEP Bulletin: Quartet, Congressional, and Flotilla Politics
Intensive diplomatic maneuvering is taking place in anticipation of the Middle East Quartet (U.S., EU, UN, Russia) meeting in Washington, DC scheduled for Monday, July 11.
The Quartet is said to be preparing a statement calling on the Palestinians not to seek UN recognition in September and to instead return immediately to direct negotiations with Israel.
The French are reportedly still promoting the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Paris in early September that would launch negotiations based on the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps, as suggested by President Obama May 19.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that the Palestinians plan to move ahead with their appeal to the United Nations. Public statements on which strategy they will pursue are mixed though. According to the online Middle East news magazine Debkafile, the Palestinian Authority told the Obama administration that next week they intend to file a formal request to the UN Security Council for full UN membership as an independent state within the 1967 borders. Other news sources have quoted Palestinian officials as saying they plan to bypass the Security Council and submit their request to the UN General Assembly.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel apparently hinted recently that he might be open to a deal, suggesting that if the Palestinians recognized Israel as the Jewish homeland, other outstanding issues could be quickly resolved. However, as a price of agreement Netanyahu is said to be insisting that President Obama endorse the letter from George W. Bush to Sharon of April 2004 that gave a Presidential commitment not to demand that Israel return to the 1967 lines and to acknowledgement of the major new Israeli population centers (settlements) that had arisen on the West Bank lines since the 1967 war.
Such a demand raises an important unresolved question of just how much land on either side of the 1967 lines would be swapped and at what ratio. Palestinians have insisted that land swaps be for areas of equal size. Israel is said to fear that a one-to-one swap would mean it would be forced to cede more land in what is now Israel than that it wishes to give in exchange for the settlement bloc lands it hopes to annex. The big Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank according to some Israeli calculations cover roughly 8 percent of the West Bank.
Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:
- US Congressional politics
- Equal treatment for Palestinian children
- Gaza flotilla politics
- The battle for the Jordan Valley
- Israel expropriates Palestinian land
- Endorse a letter to the President