Israel on Sunday formally accepted the Quartet's proposal for re-starting negotiations with the Palestinians, following a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his senior ministers.
"Israel welcomes the Quartet's call for direct negotiations without pre-conditions with the Palestinian Authority, which was already suggested by US president Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, even though Israel has a number of reservations which it will bring up in the negotiations."
The statement called on the PA to enter negotiations without delay.As mentioned in my previous post, Fatah has refused this offer. They stress that Israel must abandon all settlement construction - including neighborhoods in annexed East Jerusalem - before any negotiations can take place. This is interesting, considering that in multiple U.N. resolutions and agreements such as the Oslo Accords, it states that the future of the settlements/Judea & Samaria will be discussed in future negotiations.
Asked about Netanyahu's acceptance of the Quartet's initiative, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said "returning to negotiations requires Israel to commit to stopping settlement."
Abu Rdainah said that Israel also must recognize the "1967 borders" lines that existed before its occupation of the West Bank in a Middle East war that year.
Following Netanyahu and Abbas's speeches to the UN last month, during which Abbas said he was filing a request to the Security Council for full UN membership for "Palestine," the Quartet issued a formula for renewing talks.
The statement urged the parties "to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions." It proposed a "preparatory meeting" between the parties within a month to agree to an agenda and "method of proceeding in the negotiation," and suggested that the two sides commit to the objective of reaching an agreement "within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012."
The statement also said the expectation is that the parties will come up with a comprehensive proposal on territory and security within three months, and to have made "substantial progress" within six months. To facilitate this, an international conference will be held in Moscow "at the appropriate time."
Netanyahu has in the past objected to the idea – as presented in the Quartet proposal – of isolating security and territories from the other core issues of Jerusalem and refugees, saying that if an agreement on the territorial issue was reached, the Palestinians would have no incentive to compromise later on the issues of refugees and Jerusalem. Rather, his position in the past was that all issues should be discussed simultaneously.
What the PA is saying is basically, "Give up settlement construction, we'll give you nothing in return, and basically, we'll have nothing to negotiate about, since what we're supposed to negotiate about you already gave up."
Doesn't make much sense... You don't think that Netanyahu has some reservations about the Quartet proposal? Of course he does! It states it in the article. But that doesn't stop him from accepting a proposal for peace. And any reservations he has, he will bring it up in negotiations, and he will negotiate about them. Any reservations Abbas has, such as settlement construction, he should bring up in negotiations and negotiate about them. Then, maybe they'll sign an agreement which says "Israel will abandon all settlement construction, signed: Netanyahu + Abbas" or "Israel is allowed to continue all settlement construction, signed: Netanyahu + Abbas" or something similar.
That way, both parties agree on something. I think that's the definition of negotiations, no?