Direct Palestinian-Israeli talks "this week," but where to go?

13:36, August 16, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

by David Harris

There are increasing signs that the Palestinians and Israelis will announce the launch of direct peace talks at some point this week.

There was intense media speculation over the weekend about an imminent announcement from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that would confirm his side's participation in face-to-face negotiations.

Until now Abbas has refused to allow his team to sit in the same room as their would-be Israeli interlocutors. He has argued that Israel has not made clear that it is truly committed to a peace process that would result in the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders of the State of Israel.

While most local analysts believe the direct negotiation is imminent, they are more concerned about where the talks are heading.


The Six-Day War created what the international community refers to as the occupied territories -- the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinians view these areas along with East Jerusalem as their rightful territory. However, during the course of the last 43 years, Israel has established settlements throughout the West Bank.

As a result, Israel's hawkish government insists any land-for- peace deal must allow major Israeli settlement blocs to remain in situ and that they become a part of sovereign Israel after any final agreement.

The Palestinians are seemingly prepared to allow Israel to retain some settlements in exchange for land of equal size and quality in what is present-day sovereign Israel.

The sides will spend some of their negotiation time discussing the percentages of such a swap, but the formulas already exist from previous talks and any deal is expected to include a two to six percent exchange.

What Israel may find a more difficult pill to swallow is the fate of Jerusalem. While Israel agreed to a 10-month building freeze in the West Bank that will come to an end in September, it refused to apply any such construction moratorium to the city it sees as its "united, indivisible capital."

The United Nations perceives the eastern sections of Jerusalem to be occupied and does not recognize Israel's claim to the entire city. While many in Israel argue that the Jewish state does not need to control the Arab neighborhoods, there is far more support for the retention of much of the historically crucial Old City. That houses the site of the two ancient Jewish Temples but is currently the home to Islam's Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque.

These issues, along with the fate of the Palestinian refugees and arguably most importantly security guarantees for both sides, will be the substantive areas discussed in any upcoming parley.

【1】 【2】 【3】


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Staff members watch a screen showing the blast-off of the Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module at Beijing Aerospace Control Center, Sept. 29, 2011. Commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced Thursday night that the launch of Tiangong-1 space lab module was successful. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)
  • Chinese President Hu Jintao watches the launch of Tiangong-1 space lab module at Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 29, 2011. Other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, are also present. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)
  • The graphics shows the launch procedures of the carrier rocket of Tiangong-1 space lab module, Long March-2FT1 on Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Lu Zhe)
  • Image taken from Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows a Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasting off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua)
  • On Sept. 28, tourists travel around the Mingshashan Scenic Area in Dunhuang, Gansu province by camel. With the National Day vacation right around the corner, more and more tourists from home and abroad are going to Dunhuang. Riding on a camel, they travel in the desert to enjoy the cities rare form of natural scenery. (Xinhua/Zhang Weixian)
  • Chinese forest armed forces work together with forest firefighters on Sept. 28. (Xinhua/Chai Liren)
Hot Forum Discussion