Minutes of 8th Meeting on Territory
Thursday, 29 May 2008, 12h00
King David Hotel, West Jerusalem
Palestinian: Dr. Samih Al-Abed [SA], Azem Bishara [AB], Hala Rashed [HR], Fouad Hallak [FH], Nizar Farsakh [NF]
Israeli: Udi Dekel [UD], Dani Tirza [DT], Lea Arad [LA], and Kamil Abu Rukun [KAR]
We reaffirmed our position that negotiations are based on UNSCR 242 and 338, and other international standards. Meanwhile, the Israelis continued to assert that they have rights and claims to the land within the 1967 line and that they are not “giving” anything back.
We also asserted that we need to discuss the border both in terms of its entire length (including in the Jerusalem area) and in terms of the areas that Palestine would annex from Israel.
At one point, the Israelis appeared to backtrack on swaps, saying that they could not discuss swaps unless we agreed to discuss Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Ariel. But they later engaged, albeit briefly, on problems they have with the areas we proposed we annex from Israel (Bethlehem area, Bisan, Qatanna area).
At another point, the Israelis alluded to having “many options” and said that right now, they preferred to advance the option of negotiations with us.
On the question of whether or not we are continuing from where we left on in Taba, the Israelis said that because of what they described as “your terror war” in 2000 and of their facts on the ground, we cannot continue from where we left off in 2000-1. They also said that those previous negotiations did not involve Israeli officials.
We got the breakdown of how they calculate the areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Meeting Minutes (not verbatim):
[Started at 12:15]
SA: You going to show us something new today?
Okay, let’s start. After the last territory meeting, from my point of view there were two main obstacles. One, we understand your narrative but we do not accept it and I know you won’t change it and we have our own narrative and we won’t change it either. We can spend a meeting speaking of our narratives if we think this is important. But it is not an argument that we can use in negotiations because we won’t accept your narrative and you won’t accept ours.
Our mission is to find a bridge between the gaps to give our leaders ideas and recommendations on how to deal with these gaps. Now there is your position, the 1.9% map. All discussions recently were focused on it, but if we are to negotiation we have to go some of the way towards your position, and you have to come some of the way towards ours. Otherwise, there are no negotiations.
SA: Thank you for your remarks. I want to say something about narratives. This is not an issue that can be dismissed simply. There are internationally recognized resolutions. Your government already accepted them – 242, 338. These are well-known nationally and internationally. Officially your government agreed to these and UNSC resolution 242 and the 67 line, it is not a narrative.
Second, I do understand your position and you understand ours, but your approach of narrowing gaps is not going to work because you presented something that is unrealistic.
I suggest you present something we can live with if the goal is to come to a solution. If you expect we can go with your proposal you will find that our leaders and not even our people will accept that.
Plus, these negotiations didn’t come out from a vacuum. They’ve been discussed in Camp David, Taba and Geneva. There is a history of talks. You came up with a proposal as if there was nothing before. If we do not consider these talks we cannot move forward. If this is the case, then we will not have an agreement. So at least, let’s start from what we talked about since 2000, even if we hadn’t agreed to it. This is how I see things if we want to be able to present something to our leaders since we are not decision makers. [MISSING]
You exaggerated your demands on us that it is not even close to previous agreements.
UD: Since 2000, something happened in those 8 years so we are not at the same starting point. You started a terror war on us, and we created facts on the ground. This is the reality that we live in today, so we can’t go back to Camp David. Circumstances have changed considerably since then. Facts have changed. So we can’t freeze time and consider that we are in 2000 reality. The Middle East has changed.
All the discussions you motioned and past talks were not officials, at least not from the Israeli side. We don’t forget everything but also we cannot go back to Taba or Camp David. This is the concept behind our thinking. I don’t think it is part of our group to discuss resolution 242 interpretation. You believe 242 says rights and that settlements are illegal, we don’t. We believe we have rights in these territories. The way we see it we need to make mutual concessions. We don’t see that we have something to give back to you. We are not of the position that we took something from you that we have to give back. We want to create a Palestinian state because it is in our interest; we cannot take a ‘giving back’ approach.
SA: I don’t want to make political statements, but I need you to know that we do not accept your narrative, for as you know many from our people consider all of Palestine is our right and that we already gave 78%.
We are here to discuss the border. This land is occupied, and it is known that this is the border.
When we presented, this is what we can afford. You need to tell us what areas you want to take, and we need to see what you will compensate us with. This approach we think is the best to get to a solution to draw the line for the border of Palestine. Second. The things after 2000 were with officials. Yes, some initiatives were not official, but Taba and Camp David were official. And even in some 2ndtracks, officials participated.
We do not have people who commit terror against you on this table, and we have endured over 40 years of terror. Occupation is terror for us. We need to end it because it cannot remain forever. You can’t overrun the people’s life. So we came in peace to create a state.
Now, we can look at the map and try to decide the border. But let’s see the whole line. We can’t do it in bits and pieces.
UD: This short discussion between us shows that we cannot bridge our narratives. I do not want to convince you, but the background for our discussions is not the same either. We couldn’t agree on the principles. So now we do technical work. I cannot speak of swaps unless I know from you Ma’ale Adumim is on the table, Givat Ze’ev is on the table, Ariel is on the table.
SA: Swaps is a principle. You cannot make this a precondition. It’s not a starting point at all. We need to be convinced that this won’t harm our interests. You can’t impose on a certain localities or areas that you want to take.
UD: So we agree, we do not want to put preconditions. Last week, you said everything east of Road 60 is off the table.
SA: If we give you that area, it will be very harmful for us.
NF: What Dr. Samih is trying to say is that since we are all trying to get to a solution that works for both of us, what you presented is highly unlikely that it will be accepted by our leadership. So when Dr. Samih says that we cannot accept any map that takes anything east of Road 60 that is because it is highly unlikely that you will find any Palestinian leader that would sign off on it just as much as it will be highly unlikely that we will find any Israeli government that will give up areas west of Road # 40. So we are trying to short cut the process and not engage in areas that are highly unlikely to be accepted so that we do not spend time arguing back and forth on areas that are not constructive. We know Ariel, Givat Ze’ev are not acceptable to our leadership.
UD: We also have directives from our leaders to speak about these places .
SA: We can’t go forward without Jerusalem on the table.
UD: We say that Jerusalem is on the table but we have to agree what kind of arrangements will be in Jerusalem before discussing the borders.
SA: Discussing it will help the leaders draw the line in Jerusalem. It is part of the picture as a whole and will help leaders see the whole line.
If we want peace we know that there are areas which are very harmful for us and that we cannot accept . So let’s start somewhere with your map as a whole.
UD: We presented it many times.
SA: It is not acceptable to us.
UD: Yours is not acceptable to us. Ok, so you close the discussion. We should just eat the food and enjoy ourselves.
SA: TL said that the area of Maale Adumim reflected on the map of your proposal is not accurate and Dani said that you did not present it.
UD: She said it does not close Jerusalem from all over
SA: Yes it does. That’s what you showed us but you did not talk about it. If you want to continue like this, I don’t think we can.
UD: The rules of the game now are not this is our position take it or leave it. You want to convince us to come to your proposal. We won’t do that We need to engage. .
HR: With all due respect, if it were up to us, our proposal would be the 1967 line. But in the interest of peace and in good faith and with all sincerity, we presented something we thought addressed our interests and needs and rights, and also addressed your interests. We presented something we thought was reasonable in order to minimize the back and forth and the bartering between us.
UD: I appreciate that, and thank you for considering our interests but you don’t understand our interests as we do not understand yours. We do not accept 67 as a baseline.
There are some things that are very important to us. For you it is important for you to establish a Palestinian state
If you want, we can present Ma’ale Adumim again. It’s the same as before.
AB: I believe that in the meeting in which we presented our proposal we agreed at the end that you will study and consider it and that you will come back to us with your feedback on the proposal from both sides of the line. If we missed anything tell us. The best way to move forward now is hear your feedback on our proposal.
UD: Many times, Abu Ala said he could not look on our proposal.
We have many options and I am not referring to one state of course. We would like to develop this option with you now. But it has to be an open discussion.
So we can go back with a few comments.
We started last time with Gush Etzion and gave you our feedback and told you that we don’t accept. We can go to Ma’ale Adumim, we can go to areas around Jerusalem.
SA: you cannot omit Jerusalem, it is part of the territory.
UD: I do not have permission to discuss Jerusalem without knowing what arrangements will be in Jerusalem
SA: And Abu Ala said we cannot discuss Ma’ale Adumim.
UD: So let’s eat lunch together, and let them [leaders] decide what to do.
[UD consults with DT in Hebrew and DT suggests to make a list of all the gaps in all of the area. Go area by area systematically and list the gaps and problems.] Danny says lets go area by area and mark down the difference between our proposal and yours, and go back to the leaders.
SA: You know our position on this. We cannot see areas only without the whole line.
[Both sides engage in side discussions. DT projects the Israeli proposal for areas to be left for the Palestinian state that does not include areas to be taken from Israel and has the Jerusalem municipal border hashed, indicating that it is not part of the discussion in this Committee. The title of the computer window was “7.3%”, however, the legend next to the map had a layer titled “6.5%” which was not shown. Mostly likely, the Israelis have a 6.5% proposal prepared but they are not showing it to us]
SA: Jerusalem is hashed.
AB: So you define Jerusalem by the municipal line?
UD: No, I explained it so many times. We do not have permission to discuss Jerusalem
AB: My question is how do you define Jerusalem. Is it the municipal line or does it include Ma’ale Adumim and other areas?
UD: No. It’s the municipal lines.
SA: This is not the whole map. Where is the Latrun?
DT: This is it. In our proposal, we have the Latrun on our side.
SA: I can’t look at this.
UD: This is what we are going to give you, not what we are going to take!
NF: What is the total sum of the area you are showing us here?
UD: We gave it to you before.
NF: Just because there was a problem with percentages in the plenary meeting, and I believe that is because we use different numbers to calculate. So it would help if we have the area.
DT: 5129 sq km.
UD: If you are good, we will give you more [joking].
SA: Yala, where are the other areas?
UD: This is all. Not enough? We can’t present more now.
NF: We need to see the whole picture in order to provide our assessment. We are not just interested in local impact, but national impact.
[DT projects Gush Etzion map.]
UD: We said we cannot accept roads, Efrat [MISSING]. With Wadi Fukin, we can find places to give you land in this area. The other swap proposal, the big on, is a problem because of the railroad, because of the infrastructure.
FH: Last time, the part south of Road 347 near Jaba was not included [annexed]. Why the change?
UD: [Consults with DT in Hebrew and asks about the difference. DT says that what he is showing now it is the Wall and this is the map. If needs be we will change it. We did not show them this before because we just showed the blocs] Last time, we focused on Gush Etzion block, it did not include this. That is true.
AB: Did you have a chance to look at the Bisan area and asses our proposal?
[DT projects Bisan area map.]
DT: Yes. In Beisan area [area that the Palestinian proposal suggests to annex to Palestine] one problem is that it is very near Israeli villages inside Israel.
SA: How near?
DT: A few metres. It creates security problems.
AB: vicinity should not be a problem. Look at where Qalqiliya and Tulkarm are located, on the green line.
DT: It cuts the main road that goes to Gilboa area.
UD: We didn’t have enough time to do assessment on our side. We have to go and discuss it with people there. We need more time. We sat so far with people from our Planning and Mapping Centre We need more time to finish the research and negotiate with them internally .
NF: How long do you need?
UD: [UD consults with DT in Hebrew and DT says two weeks but it depends if we can talk about it] Two weeks
NF: And, Danny, to the extent that you say we have mistakes in our map, we’d be grateful for you to correct them.
SA: We also do our homework.
[DT projects Qatanna area map.]
DT: This swap area is right next to a kibbutz. Maale Ha Hamesha.
NF: What is the area of the Dead Sea?
UD: We don’t include it.
NF: But what is the area?
DT: 185 sq km.
DT: 360 sq. km.
UD: We explained our map many times. It does not include Gaza, Dead Sea and municipal area of Jerusalem. It is the map of Cairo agreement of 1994 that we have been using all along since.
NF: And Jerusalem? It excludes Mount Scopus?
[DT turns off projector.]
End of story, we need to agree.
SA: Maybe don’t change your map every time we come.
UD: I can explain the details to you later.
DT: NML 49.9 sq. km., including in Jerusalem. EJ: 67 sq. km., not including Mount Scopus.
NF: How much is Mount Scopus?
FH: One sq km.
DT: I don’t have the exact number for it but it is the larger area.
UD: We have to go back to our leaders.
SA: Who is yours?
UD: I have 2 leaders. I work for the PM, but I also work with Foreign Affairs. Situation now in Israel is very sensitive but we want to ensure that negotiations continue and I hope we will find a way to continue our negotiations.
SA: I want to, but take time to think whether what you are proposing is feasible at all. What kind of a state will it be if you want to annex the Jordan Valley
We have your security interests, and your territory interests. Take your security considerations and your territory considerations, and look what state we are going to have.
UD: Our responsibility is to bring recommendations to our leaders, and they will decide. I will go back, and I’ll coordinate you.
SA: Let’s put an agenda.
UD: We sat for more than 5 minutes. Abu Ala said we only sit for 5 minutes.
SA: That’s Saeb.
[UD asks to talk privately with SA so the two leave the room]
UD: about the issue that FH raised, the difference in the Jaba area in the map shown today compared to the one you saw before, this is because this is what we presented to AM.
SA: You didn’t present a map to AM, you just talked about it to him.
UD: I don’t know.
Now, about the field trip to the Modiin area we do not want to publicize it. We think it is best if only four of us go: me and KAR and you with someone else. We will stay in the car, we won’t get out of the car.
SA: OK, we’ll get back to you.
END TIME: 13h15
Breakdown of West Bank and Gaza Strip Areas According To Israel
Area in sq km
Latrun No Man's Land
East Jerusalem Israeli-defined Municipality
Hebrew University (Israeli territory to be subtracted from total sum). They use the larger area but they couldn’t give us an exact figure. Probably 2 sq km