Colonel (res.) Danny Terza, who outlined the map for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank for former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has spent the past few months advising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the possible future borders of a Palestinian state.
The talks between Netanyahu and Terza represent the first time that the prime minister has dedicated official groundwork to the subject of future borders.
According to a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu even sent Terza to a meeting on the subject with President Shimon Peres several weeks ago. The purpose of the meeting was to brief Peres on Netanyahu’s ideas on the issue of the borders of a Palestinian state, as well as the option of preparing a map with the border line that would represent the prime minister’s position on the matter.
Terza also briefed Peres on the previous rounds of negotiations with the Palestinians on the issue of borders, with special focus on the talks conducted by Olmert and then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni with senior Palestinian Authority officials in 2008.
Terza’s briefing to Peres was part of the discussions the prime ministerhad with the president over the latter’s initiative to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. In recent months, Peres has held at least four meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Some were held in secret at the London home of Jewish businessman Poju Zabludowicz.
The meeting between Peres and Terza took place some two weeks before another secret round of talks that the president planned to hold with Abbas in Amman. This round of talks did not materialize following a veto from Netanyahu, who learned that the president intended to present positions that deviated from those he permitted.
Nevertheless, the fact that Netanyahu sent Terza to speak to Peres suggests that the prime minister was deeply involved in the negotiations and had approved Peres’ actions with the Palestinian leader.
Terza, a 52-year-old resident of the Kfar Adumim settlement, is considered one of the leading professional experts on the issue of the borders of a Palestinian state and has been a member of various negotiating teams since 1994. He also served as head of the Separation Fence Administration during the term in office of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
During the peace talks that followed the Annapolis Conference in November 2007, Terza was part of the negotiating team on border issues. He was the one who drew up the withdrawal map that Olmert presented to Abbas in August-September 2008. The Olmert map included an Israeli withdrawal from 93.2 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap encompassing 6.5 percent of the territory.
Terza also drew the map that Livni presented in her talks with PA official Ahmed Qureia. The Livni map included an Israeli withdrawal from 92.7 percent of the West Bank.
Terza began advising Netanyahu unofficially in November 2010. At that time, U.S. efforts to oversee direct negotiations between Israel and the PA had failed. The direct talks came to a halt in September 2010 following only three rounds because of Israel’s refusal to extend the freeze in settlement construction in the West Bank.
The U.S administration decided at the time to return to the format of indirect talks on peace and security, and pressed Netanyahu to present his position on the borders of a Palestinian state.
According to a senior official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu, who knows Terza from the latter’s time in the defense establishment and has great respect for his professional work, asked to consult him on various issues pertaining to settlements, the Jordan Valley and the borders of a future Palestinian state.
During the past nine months, Terza met at the Prime Minister’s Bureau every few weeks with Netanyahu and his adviser, Isaac Molho. At some of the meetings, Netanyahu voiced a number of ideas pertaining to a possible border with the Palestinians in the West Bank. It appears, however, that he did not ask Terza to draw any maps.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau has confirmed that Terza is advising Netanyahu. “The prime minister is meeting with Danny Terza in order to learn from him about the history of the efforts to put together maps of the area of Judea and Samaria during the term of the previous government,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Bureau. “No border line was decided upon at the meetings, and no agreed upon map was drawn. Terza was not paid for these meetings.”
For his part, Terza refused to comment on his role in advising the prime minister.
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