NEW YORK – The Palestinians are holding feverish negotiations with European nations – in particular France, Britain and Germany – in an attempt to reach an agreed-upon proposal to submit to the UN Security Council, outlining the principles of an Israeli-Palestinian final-status deal.
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There are disagreements between the Palestinians and Europeans over the proposal presented by the French. But it is not a case of two opposing proposals, the Palestinian Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told Haaretz.
“You must understand the dynamics of the matter,” said Mansour. “We Palestinians talked about a move in the Security Council and presented the proposal [for a resolution] based on the end of the occupation within a set period of time and the recognition of the 1967 borders.”
This led, he said, to an international discussion of the matter and other proposals and ideas, including the French proposal, but they have reservations and require clarifications, he said. The parties are now in the stage of trading ideas and proposals in an attempt to formulate an agreed-upon wording between the Palestinians, Arab and European nations.
“This is also our goal, since such a [resolution] will have a much stronger position than a separate proposal of Palestine and the Arab nations,” said Mansour. He declined to say what issues are still under dispute, but said they were important diplomatic matters.
Mansour also said the UN and international community must act to define the borders of a Palestinian state before the Israeli election in March, because the Palestinians’ resolution opens the door to peace and a two-state solution.
The Palestinian leadership is expected to announce a number of decisions today concerning its proposal, as well as its decisions concerning continued security coordination with Israel. (For more details about the Palestinian leadership’s position on the end of security cooperation with Israel, see separate story on Page 2.)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold an urgent meeting in Rome tomorrow with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in order to coordinate steps before the vote on the Palestinian proposal in the UN Security Council, which may take place in the next two weeks.
Mansour spoke to Haaretz in the UN headquarters in New York, and said Israeli elections are an internal matter, and that the Palestinians and international community must not intervene in them. The important thing, he noted, was to present Israeli voters with the full range of considerations facing them before the election, including the possibility of restarting the peace process based on a proposal supported by the international community.
“The question is whether they [Israelis] will choose a government whose meaning is the continued extremism and closing the door to peace, or a government that negotiates on the basis of a proposal whose meaning is the end of the occupation and the implementation of the two-state solution – since this may be the last opportunity before closing the door on this solution,” said Mansour.
Asked whether the Israeli elections were a consideration for postponing the Palestinian proposal – or any other proposal – concerning the peace process by the Security Council, Mansour said no one had asked the Palestinians to do so, as happened before the U.S. midterm elections last month.
“No one has asked us, since everyone understands that it is not relevant, and no one can promise that if we postpone the request, a less extreme government will be elected,” he said.
If there is an even more extreme government, he added, “then what will we do – delay it another time? Therefore, what is important, in my view, is actually to speed up the approval of the Palestinian proposal, since it is a nonviolent proposal that pushes for a two-state solution and the peace everyone is talking about. It is not only a Palestinian responsibility, but the responsibility of the entire international community to speed up the move,” he said.
Mansour feels one of the considerations that pushed Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset and call a new election is an attempt to thwart the Palestinian initiative in the UN, or at least delay it. “He certainly must have thought that the dissolution would bring about the freezing of the Palestinian move for at least six months, but that will not happen,” Mansour asserted.
The coming months will be “sensitive and decisive” for everyone, added Mansour.