Israel and the Palestinian Authority's joint declaration at the Annapolis summit will focus on the format and goals of negotiations on a permanent settlement. The declaration will reference previous decisions, such as Security Council rulings and the road map.
It will also present the sides' goals for a solution, and will address the so-called "core issues": permanent borders, Jerusalem, security arrangements, Palestinian refugees and water sources.
The two negotiating teams, headed respectively by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, met again yesterday to discuss the joint declaration. Disagreements arose over most of the issues.
Qureia insists the declaration present core principles for a solution, such as an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and state that East Jerusalem will be the capital of the future Palestinian state.
Israel has rebuffed his demands, and is willing to relate only in general terms to the core issues, without presenting any solutions.
In light of the disagreement, Israel has asked the U.S. government to pressure the Palestinians into being flexible and to go ahead and hold the Annapolis Summit as planned on November 26-27. Israel will announce a series of gestures, including the freeing of Palestinian prisoners and the freezing of settlement construction, in keeping with the spirit of the summit.
The debate over the joint declaration, and the drafts passing between the two parties, started after a deal was reached last weekend. The deal stated that the Annapolis agreement would be implemented in keeping with the stages of the road map. This means a Palestinian state could be established only after PA institutions are rebuilt and the PA fights the terror organizations in the territories. Meanwhile, Israel will be required to freeze the settlements and dismantle illegal outposts.
The questions still open to debate include whether to set a timetable for reaching an agreement; how to supervise the implementation of the road map; whether a tripartite (U.S., Israel and Palestinian Authority) committee will be established for such a purpose, as the Palestinians have demanded, or whether the Americans will be the sole arbiter, as the Israelis want; and whether the negotiation goals will include "ending the dispute and all [Palestinian] claims," as Israel wants.
Israel made it clear that it considers Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state to be a precondition to flexibility on the core issues, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state constitutes a solution to Palestinian national demands.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced this week that he will raise the demand that Israel be recognized as the Jewish state during the post-summit negotiations. This means Israel will not allow this demand to block the summit.
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