How the "right of return" can be understood - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • 15.12.10 | 19:38 (IST)

    At this point in time there are no peace negotiations, so it is natural for the two negotiating partners to assume their extreme positions. When negotiations take place, the two sides move closer to each other until agreement is reached. Erekat follows this scheme, as does Netanyahu. According to Netanyahu and his partners, East Jerusalem is Israeli territory, as is the Jordan Valley, and settlement construction everywhere else is OK, so draw your own conclusions. From past experience we know that the "right of return" is used by the Palestinians as their card to negotiate over East Jerusalem. We can look at the Geneva Initiative by Beilin and Abed Rabbo to see what to expect. (Note that Abed Rabbo was close to Arafat when Geneva was negotiated, and today he is a senior aide to Abbas.) In the Geneva plan, Jerusalem remains one city, but different neighborhoods have different sovereignties, and there is some formula for how many refugees should actually return, resulting in very few (perhaps 100,000). The rest of the refugees are settled elsewhere. The Saudi Plan also does not require an actual return. I take it then that Erekat is just defining his initial position. Unfortunately, Netanyahu refused to abide by results of earlier negotiations (such as Camp David or Olmert-Abbas), so we have to start from literally the "initial" position.

    from the article: The Palestinians must not repeat their mistake of 1947
    First published 14:04 15.12.10 | Last updated 14:04 15.12.10
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