Monday, March 08, 2010
Divided PA OKs Indirect Talks for Four Months
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A divided Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, parent body of the Palestinian Authority, approved American-mediated indirect talks with Israel, but Israeli and international media reported the PLO decision as if it were unanimous.
The approval also includes a severe pre-condition that the PA’s demands be met within four months, a demand that U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley has said is not practical.
The Agence France Presse told readers that "the Palestinian leadership has decided to give an opportunity for the American suggestion to hold indirect talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.” Associated Press reported, “A skeptical Palestinian leadership agreed Sunday to hold U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel for four months.”
However, none of the news reports bothered to note that the decision was split. The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency, which is considered close to the PA, quoted the PLO’s executive committee secretary Abed Rabbo as saying, “This decision of the Palestinian leadership was taken with the objection or disagreement by a number factions and members of the Executive Committee.”
The communist Palestinian People’s Party stated it voted against the decision and that the PLO was “embarrassed” by the decision of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (pictured) to ask the Arab League for backing a return to talks.
Even Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeina, cautioned that a four-month deadline was imposed for agreement to Arab terms of a new PA state that includes all of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Israeli public opinion and leaders across the political spectrum oppose the condition even though Abed Rabbo claimed that Israel has agreed that the 1949-67 borders will the basis for negotiations.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with visiting U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell Sunday following the Obama administration representative’s discussion with Defense Minister Ehud Barak the evening before.
The agreement is in effect a face-saving measure for the Obama administration, which has failed to convince the PA to drop pre-conditions for direct talks with Israel. U.S. President Barack Obama has sent his Vice President Joe Biden to Israel for a three-day visit beginning Monday evening.
Observers anticipate that Biden's scheduled address to students at the Tel Aviv University may feature a “reaching out to Jews” speech, paralleling the "reaching out to Muslims” address President Obama delivered in Cairo University last June. The president then referred to Israeli communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as “illegitimate” as well as illegal.
Another possibility is that Biden may state that the United States will attack Iran with nuclear weapons if the Islamic Republic carries out its apparent plan to annihilate the Jewish State with nuclear warheads.