Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Can Israel Negotiate with an "Ambiguous" Partner?

The answer appears to be yes, and much to their credit:

FM Livni says Israel agrees to discuss terms of Palestinian state By Aluf Benn and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told European lawmakers on Tuesday that Israel had agreed "to conduct a dialogue on the conditions for establishing a Palestinian state," according to a ministry statement. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will hold biweekly meetings mediated by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The American secretary, in making the announcement Tuesday at a Jerusalem press conference, added she would join them "from time to time" to help them along.

Meanwhile, there is no way that an abject 1967 borders demand can be met, but they can form the starting point for land-swap deals, which were part of the prior discussions. Anyway, it's refreshing to see the wheels turning, especially the creation of 'working groups', which might add something if they can do away with the "Summit Mentality" that has plagued the approaches to peace making in the past, in my opinion.

A draft of the final resolution to be approved by the [Arab] summit relaunches the peace initiative without changes. But it also creates working groups that will meet with the United Nations, United States, Europe and Russia in an attempt to push the plan forward.

U.S. allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the working groups as a way to repackage the initiative in a way that could lead to further negotiations. One proposal is that Arab leaders would insist that Israel accept the Arab peace plan in principle before returning to any talks, while be willing to soften their conditions once negotiations began, Arab diplomats have said.

Wouldn't be a laugh-hoot, if reasonable, preliminary settlement guidelines were to be agreed on the Bush's watch?

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