The renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have revealed that the deep divide between each side’s proposed solution, which caused previous talks to break down continues to be an issue, the Arab-language daily Al-Hayat reports.
According to the report, the Israeli team involved in the secret negotiations created a proposal for a PA state along provisional borders. The proposal would allow Israel to maintain control over the Jordan Valley, and border crossings with Jordan, for 40 years.
The Israeli team suggested that Israel’s security concerns, and the large Israeli Jewish minority in Judea and Samaria (Shomron), be taken into account when determining the final borders of the PA state.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly stated that they plan to keep the “settlement blocs” – areas comprising less than 10% of the total land mass of Judea and Samaria which are home to the majority of the region’s roughly 600,000 Jewish residents. Some have proposed land swaps that would replace “settlement bloc” land with other Israeli land.
According to Al-Hayat, PA negotiators are unwilling to see Israel retain more than 2% of Judea and Samaria, even in exchange for land elsewhere in Israel. As PA leaders have repeatedly insisted that Jews will not be allowed to remain as citizens of a future "Palestinian state" - a refusal which amounts to a demand that Israel expel hundreds of thousands of its citizens from their homes, effectively ethnically-cleansing the region of its Jewish population.
United States officials previously predicted that Israel will ultimately lose roughly 15% of the settlement blocs under a deal with the PA.
The PA team also rejected Israel’s security-related demands, and rejected the possibility of a PA state with provisional borders.
The two teams reportedly have not even begun negotiating the highly disputed issues of the status of Jerusalem or of “Palestinian refugees.”
Israel has made united Jerusalem its capital, but the PA argues that all Jerusalem neighborhoods that were under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967 – including historically majority-Jewish areas such as the Old City – should become the capital of a PA state.
The PA also argues that the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence should be allowed to “return” to Israel. Israeli leaders have firmly rejected this demand.
The ongoing talks also face opposition from within on both sides. Hamas argues that the PA and its Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, have "no legitimacy" to represent PA Arabs. Senior Israeli politicians have also expressed concern over Abbas' legitimacy as a representative for his people, noting that his term in office expired in 2009.