Israel presented this week, for the first time, its principles regarding the borders of a future Palestinian state. The borders were presented during Wednesday’s meeting in Jordan between attorney Yitzchak Molcho and the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
One of the principles presented by Molcho is that, in a final settlement, most of the Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria will remain in Israeli territory, and the border will be drawn in such a way that most PA Arabs who currently reside in Judea and Samaria will be part of the Palestinian state.
The borders presented by Molcho are similar to the route of the separation fence, which was constructed in such a way that most of the major ‘settlement blocs’ remained on the western side of the fence. This includes Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, Beitar Illit, Kiryat Sefer and Alfei Menashe. Israel insists that Ariel also be included as part of Israeli territory in a permanent status agreement with the PA.
Molcho presented Israel’s position on borders orally and did not present Erekat with an official document on the matter. He presented a series of general principles, without displaying maps or indicating what percentages of territories Israel would be willing to give up as part of a permanent agreement. Having Israel present its position on borders was a central PA demand to continue talks in Amman under the auspices of King Abdullah, but in the past the PA has consistently rejected having the border be determined based the separation fence.
Presenting the principles on borders marks the first time the current Netanyahu government has agreed to discuss the territorial issue. However, analysts said on Thursday that it is likely a tactical move designed to put pressure on the PA and not give the entity an excuse to end talks by using the argument that Israel would not discuss the issue of borders.
Wednesday marked the final “exploratory” meeting between Israel and the PA, and it ended with no progress. Erekat and Molcho made little headway in their fifth meeting, the last before the January 26 deadline set by the Quartet of peacekeeping nations to break the impasse and relaunch direct talks for a final status agreement between the two sides.
Prior to the meeting, the PA-based Ma’an news agency reported that the PA refused to continue talks with Israel after the deadline.
Erekat – a member of the Fatah terror faction's Central committee -- used a previous meeting to negotiate the release of all PA terrorist prisoners currently incarcerated in Israeli jails, rather than to focus his efforts on discussing the core issues relating to Israel-PA statehood.
Among the issues Erekat raised at the last meeting was advocating for the release of Hamas legislator Aziz Dweik, who had been recently arrested by Israeli security forces.