Peacekeepers may be on agenda in PA talks
A multinational peacekeeping force in the West Bank may have been one of the issues U.S. special envoy George Mitchell sought clarifications on in the second round of proximity talks with the Palestinians, a government source told Haaretz. The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment.
Mitchell is seeking clarifications to map the basic positions of both sides on matters of borders and security. The Palestinians began explaining their positions to Mitchell in a meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday. It remains unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied to Mitchell at their meeting yesterday or asked officials to prepare Israel's replies for the next encounter.
The Prime Minister's Office said yesterday's three-hour meeting consisted of two distinct parts. The first focused on current matters and the second on the conflict's core issues.
A statement stressed Netanyahu's mentioning of the issue of water in the future Palestinian state. Also at the meeting was Noah Kinarti, who focused on water in the past for Israeli teams negotiating with Jordan and the Palestinians.
Water is sticking point
Kinarti is considered a hawk on water issues and is opposed to sharing aquifers with the Palestinians. Yesterday's statement seems to imply that this is also the official Israeli position, especially as far as the mountain aquifer is concerned.
Instead, Israel appears to be proposing that the Palestinians will use desalinated water or obtain water from the international community.
The first part of the meeting centered on the confidence-building steps the United States expects Israel to take toward the Palestinian Authority. "Israel will consider making goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians during the proximity talks," the Prime Minister's Office said.
Netanyahu also made clear to Mitchell that he expects the PA to work to create a positive atmosphere in the talks and not conduct international campaigns against Israel such as protests against the country's joining the OECD.
Netanyahu stressed that he hopes to make progress in the proximity talks and move on quickly to direct negotiations.