Israel Could Lease Land From Palestinians
According to the report of the London Arab journal Asharq al-Awsat, the negotiations are secret and are focused on establishing the borders of the future state of Palestine.
It is supposed that the Americans and the Israelis are discussing the possibility that Israel may lease land from the Palestinian state, which is a new development in the chain of propositions made during this last month, though it is not for the first time that Palestinians are being presented with it: the same proposition was made at Taba in 2001, but covered only a period of less than 10 years.
The idea is that Israel would be able to lease territories from the Palestinians for a period of 40 to 99 years in exchange for the establishing of a free Palestinian state.
The negotiations are a initiative of the United States and are aiming at breaking through this period of stagnation in the direct talks between the two sides.
The Palestinians were not informed until recently about this deal, and upon hearing about it they had no comment on it. The same goes with the American and Israeli governments which didn’t wish to comment either.
The proposal of the Americans is intended as a form to solve the difficult problem of the settlement building in the sense that the Israelis would lease the land upon which they are now building the settlements.
The proposal comes at a time that is running out fast for the parties involved in the solution of this crisis. The Americans were given until after the first week of November to find a solution by the Arab League, which will then convene to decide the next steps to follow.
It is to be expected that the 22 members of the Arab League will recommend the resumption of indirect talks, which are not favored by the Israelis.
In a statement for Iran’s television, officials of the Palestinian Authority officials have alleged that the settlement building in the West Bank is designed to undermine the efforts for peace.
The United States envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry declared that the settlement building is “illegal under international law.”
Yesterday, the Egyptian Foreign Minister visited Ramallah in an attempt to convince the Palestinians to resume negotiations, but declared that the mission failed at the end of discussions with Abbas.
The negotiations were abandoned on September 26, the day the 10-month settlement building freeze expire.
Since then, the Israeli settlers resumed construction and up until now they have built some 600 new homes for their people, and have engaged in clashes with the Palestinians which were harvesting olives.
Since September 26, Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would consider different propositions that would foster negotiations and that he would bring them forth to the negotiation table.
Thus, at first Netanyahu proposed the Palestinians to restrict the settlement building to some areas. Then he proposed to extend the building to areas close to the border in hopes they will fall into Israeli territory after the drawing of the maps of the two countries.
All these were rejected by the Palestinians who stood firm and said nothing will change until the settlement building stops altogether.
Acting on this, Netanyahu made another proposition, offering Palestinians a freeze on settlements in exchange for the recognition of the state of Israel as Jewish state and democracy, and the right of the Jews to be indigenous to that geographical space.
The Palestinian Authority said that they would accept the recognition of Israel (again) in exchange for the recognition of a state of Palestinians within the borders before 1967. It was Netanyahu’s turn to refuse.
Meanwhile, the proposition of the Americans seems almost miraculous, since the coalition forces that support Netanyahu’s government are now radicalized in the sense that the right wing threatens to bring down the government unless the settlement building continues, while the left wing threatens the same thing unless the negotiations are not resumed by the end of the year.
The American government had made a proposition to Israel, promising to help the Jewish state in security matters and in diplomatic issues like convincing the U.N. to not recognize unilaterally a Palestinian state in exchange for the continuation of the settlement freeze at most two more months.
The Israelis did not take the offer, though it seemed impossible to reject, for fear of not becoming to dependent on the American government.11