Israel still has a partner for peace
Lieberman's argument that the documents prove a long-term interim agreement is the only realistic solution is groundless.
On Sunday, Haaretz reported on Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's proposal to promote a long-term interim arrangement with the Palestinians. A few hours later, Al Jazeera and the Guardian published documents detailing the negotiations over the final-status arrangement held between the previous government and the Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
The documentation, conducted by the Palestinian team heads, illustrates the serious and down-to-business approach of the Palestinians with regards to the central core issues - borders, Jerusalem and holy places.
The documents testify yet again that Israel has found a pragmatic Palestinian partner, interested in implementing the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders. This solution consists of border adjustments that would enable annexing a considerable part of the settlements, in this way gaining international recognition for annexing the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians even said they were ready to discuss a special regime in the Old City. The documents point to the isolated West Bank settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel and to the Har Homa neighborhood at the Jerusalem city limits - established after the Oslo agreements - as the main obstacles to a fair, sensible demographic partition.
The documents include a transcript of the statements made by Negotiations Department head Saeb Erekat at a meeting with American officials about a year ago. It reflects the Palestinian leadership's deep frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to open a serious debate on the central issues. Without a solution to these issues, Netanyahu's declarations in support of a two-state solution are devoid of meaning.
Lieberman's argument that the documents prove a long-term interim agreement is the only realistic solution is groundless. Olmert's government ended its term before having completed the final-status negotiations. There is not, nor will there be, a Palestinian partner to a 20-year - or more - interim arrangement without delineating permanent borders and reaching an agreed upon solution to the refugees problem.
If Israel continues to prefer expanding the settlements to ensuring its status as a Jewish democratic state, we will lose the last Palestinian partner who could prevent its perpetuation as an isolated, condemned apartheid state.
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