Saturday, July 9, 2011

Netanyahu hopes Quartet proposes Obama's formula with "sweeteners" to restart talks

(Jpost). Jerusalem is bracing for a busy diplomatic week, beginning on Monday with a meeting of the Quartet in Washington, continuing Tuesday with an Arab League meeting that will discuss the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, and concluding with Friday’s deadline by which the PA must submit a resolution for statehood to the UN secretary-general if it wants the Security Council to take up the matter during the September General Assembly.

Israeli officials have expressed concern that in an attempt to dissuade the Palestinians from going to the UN in September, the Quartet might propose a formula for re-starting negotiations based on US President Barack Obama’s comments in May about starting talks on the pre-67 lines with mutually agreed land swaps as a baseline.

The concern in Jerusalem is that the EU, Russia and the UN want to see those parameters formalized, without adding in what Obama also said in his speech at the State Department and a couple days later at AIPAC, signaling Israel as a Jewish state and the need for iron clad security guarantees.

According to some diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu would be amenable to entering talks along the parameters of the pre-67 lines with mutually agreed swaps, if the formula also included such “sweeteners” as a reference to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and that an agreement would signify the end of conflict.

Israeli diplomatic officials, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction at a letter some 100 members of the European Parliament sent to Ashton Friday calling on her, as well as the 27 EU member states, “to discourage unilateral Palestinian efforts to attain UN recognition.”

According to the letter, signed by parliament members from throughout the EU and across the political spectrum, “It is precisely because we believe in the justness of the Palestinian cause that we urge them to refrain from seeking UN recognition of a unilaterally declared state, a counterproductive step we fear could set back the chances for peace. Instead, Palestinians and Israelis should immediately resume negotiations.”