The Israeli representatives to talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) are in disagreement, with head negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, offering the Arab negotiating team more than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's delegate to the talks wishes to offer them. Sometimes, it appears, the two disagree openly in the negotiating room.
Voice of Israel public radio reported Tuesday that Netanyahu's delegate, Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, disagrees with Livni on the question of where the borders between Israel and the PA will be drawn and on the area of Jerusalem that is to be defined as an “open city,” where Israelis and Palestinians are both to enjoy freedom of movement.
Israel's opening position in negotiations on the border is that the present security barrier will become the permanent border – as opposed to the 1949 armistice lines that the Palestinian side is demanding. Israel also wants some communities that are outside the “settlement blocs” and east of the separation fence to remain in its hands – including Beit El, where Arutz Sheva has its headquarters, and Psagot.
Livni reportedly sees this opening position as being too tough.
Regarding Jerusalem, too, there is disagreement. Molcho agrees to define part of Jerusalem as an open city, but wants that area to be confined to the Old City and Temple Mount area. Livni is “willing to be flexible” regarding the size of the open city area.
There have been 15 meetings of the negotiating teams thus far, reported Voice of Israel. Half of the sessions are held in Jerusalem and half in Jericho, and each session lasts 3-4 hours. The US representative, Martin Indyk, enters the room at the end of the session and is updated by both sides.
Livni does most of the talking at the sessions, and Molcho “intervenes when he sees fit.” According to one source, the two have often argued inside the negotiating room, and were unable to hide their differences.
Sources close to Netanyahu have accused Livni of undermining the talks in the past.
Maariv reported that “while it is true that in the formal meetings with the Palestinians that Livni conducts alongside Molcho she is careful to stick to the official line set by Netanyahu – outside of these meetings, in the conversations Livni holds with American elements or in side conversations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu and Molcho have been hearing that she has been departing from the official line and making statements from which it appears that Israel is ready to give up on its principles even at this stage.”