Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

PLO preparing to kick-start negotiations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Denying the news leaked about a document the Palestinian leadership is drafting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which it defines its vision for the resumption of direct peace negotiations, Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the document, which has become known and “the mother of messages,” is yet to be complete, and that reports published on this issue are incorrect, and are leaks to test the waters.

According to published reports, the Israeli side refused to receive the message of President Mahmud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership. Erekat said the message “has thus far not been completed, and we are waiting for the return of President Abbas to complete the document,” which has been expected for weeks, pointing out that the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, had recently published a news item on the issue.

President Mahmud Abbas is currently in Cairo for a two-day visit. President Abbas participated in the 23rd Arab summit, which was held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, last Thursday. Barakat al-Farra, Palestinian ambassador in Cairo and Palestine’s permanent envoy to the Arab League, told the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, that President Abbas will meet with Marshall Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces. He said that the meeting will discuss a number of issues of mutual concern within the framework of the consultations between the two fraternal countries. Al-Farra pointed out that during the visit, President Abbas will lay the foundation stone of the new premises of the Palestinian Embassy in Heliopolis.

Erekat also emphasized that the delegation that will be assigned with conveying the message has not been formed yet, though another Palestinian source told Asharq Al-Awsat early last March that the delegation will group three individuals; namely, Erekat, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (and this not confirmed), and Muhammad Ishtayah, member of Fatah Central Committee and member of the Palestinian negotiations delegation.

Erekat denied that the United States has employed pressure on the Palestinian leadership to prevent sending this message to Netanyahu, who may respond to it with more extremism and measures on the ground, something that would cause more embarrassment for the Administration of President Barack Obama before the presidential elections.

However, what Erekat told Asharq Al-Awsat conflicts with the statement made by Hanna Amirah, member of the PLO Executive Committee, on 18 March on completing the drafting of the message. Amirah was quoted as saying that the Palestinian leadership has finished drafting the message addressed to Israel to the fullest, in addition to other messages that will be sent to the world leaders on the same subject. Amirah stressed that there are extensive contacts to decide the final date for sending the messages, adding that the leadership is studying the appropriate time for sending President Abbas’s message to Netanyahu on the peace process.

It is worthy to note that the message includes a review of the experience of the peace process between the two sides over two decades and defines the Palestinians’ conditions for the restoration of the peace process between the two sides, which are: “The Israeli Government’s acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with the possibility of minor exchange of land which are equal in value and size; halting all the settlement activities, including those in East Jerusalem; releasing the detainees, particularly those arrested before 1994; cancelling all the decisions made by the Israeli Governments since 2000.” The conditions also include “respecting the signed agreements, since it is impermissible that the commitment to the signed agreements and the international obligations be only by the Palestinian side.”