Sunday, December 19, 2010

Narrowing gaps on security matters, as the PA accept Israel's security aims

Haaretz reported last week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed to visiting U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that Israel would agree to discuss all the core issues in the indirect negotiations that are expected take place with the Palestinians over the coming months under American mediation.

Up to now, Netanyahu had refused to negotiate borders, settlements or the status of Jerusalem before the issue of security arrangements was resolved.

According to this following report, there is some insight why Netanyahu agreed going further in discussing the borders, Jerusalem and refugees issues as the gaps on the security front may be narrowing.

(Ben Birnbaum-The Washington Times).Palestinian leaders told the Obama administration they are ready to accept nearly any security arrangements for a Palestinian state demanded by Israel, according to a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

"We will accept any arrangement short of Israeli military presence on the soil of a future Palestinian state," said Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLOs chief U.S. representative, in an interview with The Washington Times.

Other than an Israeli troop presence, he said, "we are willing to discuss with the Israelis whatever arrangements that can achieve the same objectives that the Israelis desire in the area of security, but with the involvement of third parties in this area - Americans, a combination of forces, United Nations, NATO. Whatever is acceptable to the Israelis, we will not have a problem."

The Palestinian position came in the form of "an official offer" to the Obama administration and was passed on to Israel, he said.

The PLO's Mr. Areikat objected to the word "demilitarization," saying "there is no such thing in international law." But he expressed support for the concept of a Palestinian state with "limited military capabilities," citing the restrictions placed upon Germany and Japan after World War II.

"What we are saying is that we will not possess offensive capabilities," Mr. Areikat said. "The armaments, the military structure that we will have will only be to protect our people, to provide security for our people and for our borders, and to be able to maintain law and order in our future state.

"We don't want to have an air force, we don't want to have ships, we don't want to have submarines. We don't want to spend our resources on an arms race. We'd rather spend that money on developing and building our future state."

He said the planned Palestinian security service would be "a National Guard-style thing."

Mr. al-Omari said he thinks the Obama administration would be wise to seek agreements on security and borders, where the gaps between the Israelis and Palestinians are narrower than on other sensitive issues, such as Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.