Israel: No Final Status Talks at Summit

PM, FM think talk of refugees, Jerusalem and 1967 borders may lead to violence.

Contact Editor
Gil Ronen, | updated: 09:46

As U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepares to convene a three-way summit with the leaders of Israel and the PA, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sticking to his refusal to discuss three major elements of any final-status agreement: Arab refugees from 1948, the status of Jerusalem and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 armistice lines. Raising any of these issues would doom the talks to failure, Olmert told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Monday.

Olmert also believes that the US-brokered summit is not a substitute for direct bilateral negotiations, which should be the main route for progress.

The summit meeting between Olmert, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary Rice is to take place in Jerusalem next Monday. Rice wants to hold the meeting in order to demonstrate progress in Israel-PA relations, but Abbas and Olmert cannot agree on the agenda for the talks.

Abbas said over the weekend that he had "agreed with [Secretary] Rice that it is necessary to discuss a final-status arrangement and to begin negotiations on permanent borders, the settlements and the refugee problem." He reiterated his opposition to any discussion of an Arab state with temporary borders.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also believes that final-status issues should not be discussed now. A failure of the talks on these issues, she says, could spark renewed violence, as occurred after the Camp David summit of July 2000. The FM would prefer to focus on establishing a PA state within temporary borders, as outlined in the second stage of the "Road Map to Peace" plan.

PA spokesmen conducted a massive diplomatic campaign Saturday, in an attempt to convince world leaders to support their "unity government" and lift economic sanctions on the PA. However, Western governments and Israel have shown little enthusiasm for the agreement signed Thursday by Hamas and Fatah leaders in Mecca. World leaders said they would have to study the deal and see how it changes the situation, before lifting sanctions.

The Quartet of Mideast mediators – the U.S., U.N., Russia and the European Union – had demanded that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and accept past peace deals. However the Mecca accord says only that the new PA government pledges to "respect" the previous deals.





top