Beilin Associates: PM's Office Knew of Negotiations

Sources associated with former Labor MK Yossi Beilin, who took part in the negotiations that led to the "Geneva Understandings," said Monday that the Prime Minister's office was continally kept updated on developments in the negotiations.

Sources in the Prime Minister's office denied the claims.

The "Geneva Understandings" - a draft memorandum for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement formulated by members of the Israeli opposition and Palestinian officials - includes allowing a certain number of Palestinians to return to areas inside the State of Israel, though not as part of a "right of return."

Upon completing the draft of the agreement, Beilin will concentrate efforts on gaining local support among Likud, Shinui and Ultra Orthodox MKs, Army Radio reported.

Beilin and others involved will also try and draw international support for the agreement, among current and former heads of state.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Palestinians would be granted sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and the area would be monitored by international bodies. The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the Western Wall, would remain under Israeli sovereignty.

The main points of the draft are as follows:

* The Palestinians will concede the right of return. Some refugees will remain in the countries where they now live, others will be absorbed by the PA, some will be absorbed by other countries and some will receive financial compensation. A limited number will be allowed to settle in Israel, but this will not be defined as realization of the right of return.

* The Palestinians will recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

* Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, except for certain territorial exchanges, as described below.

* Jerusalem will be divided, with Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem becoming part of the Palestinian state. Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank suburbs of Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim and the historic part of Gush Etzion - but not Efrat - will be part of Israel.

* The Temple Mount will be Palestinian, but an international force will ensure freedom of access for visitors of all faiths. However, Jewish prayer will not be permitted on the mount, nor will archaeological digs. The Western Wall will remain under Jewish sovereignty and the "Holy Basin" will be under international supervision.

* The settlements of Ariel, Efrat and Har Homa will be part of the Palestinian state. In addition, Israel will transfer parts of the Negev adjacent to Gaza, but not including Halutza, to the Palestinians in exchange for the parts of the West Bank it will receive.

* The Palestinians will pledge to prevent terror and incitement and disarm all militias. Their state will be demilitarized, and border crossings will be supervised by an international, but not Israeli, force.

* The agreement will replace all UN resolutions and previous agreements.

Members of the Israeli delegation upon returning Sunday from talks with the Palestinians in Amman, Jordan said that the initiative will be released and signed during an international conference to be held in Geneva next month.

Labor Chairman Shimon Peres refused to take part in the agreement because it makes reference to UN Resolution 194 that the Palestinians see as the basis for their “right of return,” and which Peres described as a danger to Israel. Earlier Sunday it was reported that the Palestinians had relinquished their claim to a “right of return.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Channel Two on Sunday that the initiative is hampering the ability to move forward in negotiations towards a practical peace agreement. According to a Channel Two report, Sharon has learned from intelligence sources that Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his government intend to adopt the Geneva understandings.

According to Labor MK Amram Mitzna, Marwan Barghouti, the Tanzim chief standing trial in Israel for alleged murder, was partly involved in the initiative, while Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia were aware of it.

The negotiating teams, which included former minister Yossi Beilin, Labor MKs Avraham Burg and Amram Mitzna and Meretz MK Haim Oron on the Israeli side and Yasser Abed Rabbo and Nabil Qassis on the Palestinian side, began their talks in Amman on Thursday. The draft was finalized Sunday and the signing ceremony is to take place in Geneva in several weeks time.

"The document provides solutions to final settlement issues such as the status of Arab East Jerusalem, frontiers, the establishment of a Palestinian state and the right of returning home of Palestinian refugees who were forced to leave Palestine when Israel was founded in 1948," said the deputy Palestinian ambassador to Jordan, Atallah Khairi.

Although the Jordanian government said that it "had nothing to do with the meeting," reliable sources said that the Israeli-Palestinian talks were attended by Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher and other senior Foreign Ministry officials.

The document was prepared over the course of a year by Beilin and Abed Rabbo, with the assistance of several professionals, and is intended to draft a permanent peace agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has given his blessing to the dialogue.

The draft is based on the Taba agreements that were drafted during the end of Ehud Barak's term as prime minister in 1999, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton's plan for the division of Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians, which included providing the right of return for Palestinians in humanitarian cases.

Sarid: 'it's a shame the government won't talk, just shoot'Meretz MK Yossi Sarid told Israel Radio on Friday that he had participated in the discussions on the draft, but could not leave for Jordan to attend the signing ceremony for personal reasons.

"We believe in these meetings, we think that there is something to talk about and someone to talks too, perhaps today more than ever, and it is a shame that the government won't talk, just shoot," Sarid said.

"These meetings were not carried out in an underground manner or in the dark," Sarid said, referring to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accusations earlier this week that the Labor and the left were cooperating with the Palestinians "behind the back of the government."

Sarid explained that the meetings had to be coordinated with the security establishment.

"I don't understand why the prime minister was angered by the meeting near the Dead Sea... Perhaps Sharon is scared that a terrible secret would come out: that there is someone to talk and something to talk about, and a significant degree of goodwill on the part of the second party, and that this is a time in which calm, even relative calm can be achieved... We, unlike him, are not afraid."

Health Minister Dan Naveh (Likud) dismissed the Belin-Abed Rabbo agreement as a document that "reeked of a bad odor."

"The opposition is negotiating behind the government's back with the Palestinians, while we are in a serious conflict with them, in a war against Palestinian terror, which is directed and encouraged by some of the people with whom the left-wing officials have met," Naveh said.

"It is not the opposition's job to hold talks, it is the government's job, and there are reasons for the government to avoid negotiations today with these people, Arafat's people, who have been behind the campaign of murder of terror over the past three years," Naveh said.

"Those people, Sarid, Beilin and the others, were the architects of the Oslo agreements ten years ago, which in my opinion the agreement that brought this terrible catastrophe on us," he added.