Israel's talks position 'same as Annapolis'

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 23, 2012

Israeli officials this week presented their version of what happened during the peace talks in Amman four weeks ago.

In the midst of the blame game that has followed the breakdown of the negotiations, Israeli diplomats said that the Palestinian team unilaterally decided to limit the time devoted to the talks. They also accused the Palestinians of refusing to accept some of Israel's position papers or listen to IDF officers who were part of the Israeli team, even though in the past officers have taken part in talks.

It also emerged that the Israeli position presented at the talks was very similar to that of the previous Kadima government during the 2008 Annapolis conference.

In Amman, the Israelis proposed the establishment of a Palestinian state on most of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with territory exchanges that would enable the majority of the settlement blocs to remain under Israeli sovereignty, along with security provisions including an Israeli military presence in a settlement-free Jordan Valley. This was almost identical to the position presented by Tzipi Livni at Annapolis.

The Palestinian position limited the territory exchange to 1.9 per cent of the West Bank and demanded that Israel commit to basing borders on the pre-1967 lines and freeze all settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a condition for starting talks.

Palestinian spokesmen blamed Israel for the collapse of the discussions, claiming that Israel was not prepared to cede sufficient territory.

While no further talks have been scheduled, in the mean time, Fatah and Hamas have signed a new agreement on a Palestinian unity government.

It is still unclear whether Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will implement the deal or whether the Hamas leadership in Gaza, which is against the deal, will come around to it. Meanwhile, Israel is worried that the PA's next step will be to renew its diplomatic campaign at the UN.

Last updated: 1:58pm, February 23 2012