Israeli Palestinian Summit

(See here) a Jerusalem Post article that reports Israeli PM Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas have met and agreed to hold an official summit. While it is important to note the purpose of the summit will not be negotiations towards the end of the conflict, that any meeting at all is going to take place is surely a positive step.

Perhaps negotiations could commence if the Palestinian People approve President Abbas's referendum proposal slated to be voted on come July 26th.

(See here) another Jerusalem Post article, this one reports about comments made by PM Olmert at the Petra Nobel Laureates conference while he was in Jordan.

What was very striking to me were these comments:
"I will pull out from territories, not from every inch, I have no commitment to the boundaries [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen is demanding [a withdrawal to the 1967 lines]. This we will negotiate and I will make compromises. There will be blocs of settlements that cannot be evacuated. And there will be many, many settlements vacated by Israel which would give the Palestinians territorial contiguity in which they can realize their dream of a Palestinian state," Olmert said.

Had Barak taken such a position during negotiations at Taba, he might have even gotten Yasser Arafat to agree to a peace agreement.

Of course the article does not mention whether or not PM Olmert also addressed one of the other sticky issues, and that being what his intentions are when the subject of Jerusalem comes up. Certainly he must understand that some method of sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians must be found.

An interesting "demand" from the Israeli side, before negotiations even start, is disclosed by this statement PM Olmert made:
Settlers, Olmert added, would have to make a "personal choice" whether they wanted to live in a Jewish state or a Palestinian state. "The settlers can decide they would rather live on this particular piece of land, and that is [their] choice," Olmert said.
Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, a staunch settlement supporter, stated:
"I will live in a Palestinian state if my life is assured by the Palestinian Authority, and I call on others to do the same if their security is assured. If it cannot be assured, then there is no peace. If we have hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Arabs living in Israel, and we cannot have Israelis living in the land of the [Palestinian] Authority, then there is no peace,"
This "demand" is not as ludicrous as some might think. Think about it. Should Jewish citizens be allowed to live within Palestine and actually retain ownership of property if they can prove this property was obtained legally and they agree to abide by Palestinian laws? I think this is a reasonable demand.

However if this demand must be entertained, then the reverse side of the coin must be considered. Will a Palestinian citizen, if he can prove ownership of property, be allowed to reside within Israel? What then about all the Palestinian refugees who fled back in 1948 and who's families still hold deeds to property within Israel? Will this land be returned to them even though perhaps they will not be given citizenship within Israel?

If the settlers are going to "demand" the Palestinians must be "reasonable" (and I think the demand is reasonable) are the Israelis just as willing to be "reasonable"? Or does "reason" flow only in one direction?


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