There are several channels, open and secret, through which Israeli-PA negotiations are taking place. Here’s a report about the public one:
The new teams will work on common concerns about water, the environment, economic and judicial matters, while leaving the tough subjects of borders, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem to the political negotiators, said Arye Mekel, spokesman for chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, who is Israel’s foreign minister…
The main issues facing the negotiators have stymied decades of peace efforts. Arguably the touchiest is Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want to create a capital in the eastern sector. But both sides lay claim to the explosive joint holy site in the Old City, where the Al Aqsa Mosque compound sits atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish Temples.
No less volatile is the future of Palestinian refugees from the 1948-49 war that followed Israel’s creation. With their descendants, they number in the millions. Palestinians insist they have a right to return to their original homes in Israel, while Israel demands that they be resettled in the new Palestinian state. Other major issues are final borders and the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. No progress is reported in any of those areas. — Jerusalem Post
Leaving aside the issues about Palestinian ability or desire to perform if a deal is made, and of course what to do about Hamas, there is something else that is left out of this description.
That is that the real issue in dispute is whether or not there should continue to be a Jewish state. No Palestinian faction, not even Fatah as run by Mahmoud Abbas or by presently imprisoned murderer Marwan Barghouti, will accept this.
They make this totally clear by their demand for the resettlement of the ‘refugees’ in Israel, and by their refusal to accept that Israel is the Jewish state — can you imagine if someone refused to accept ‘Palestine’ as an Arab state?
It’s also clear that the elites of the Israeli Arab minority also do not agree that Israel should be a Jewish state, and wish to see national symbols such as the flag, the national anthem, etc. replaced. Of course they also want to see Israel’s Law of Return repealed.
In other words, everybody on the Arab side wants it to be 1947 again.
Is there any evidence that the Palestinians will change their minds and agree to another partition proposal after rejecting at least three?
No, the most that can be hoped for is that they will settle for getting the IDF and the settlements out of the West Bank, sovereignty over large portions of Jerusalem — including the holiest sites of Judaism — and some kind of arrangement that will accept in principle that the refugees are the real owners of Israel and pay them a bunch of money, but not actually allow them to take possession. At least, not today.
There is a danger that the present government, profoundly blind to symbolism and incapable of thinking in the long term, will agree to this.
But of course the Palestinians will not give up their dream of eliminating the Jewish state. The agreement will simply mark the beginning of a new round of threats, terrorism, international bullying of Israel, etc. And Israel will be in a far weaker position, militarily and diplomatically, to resist.
So what is the point of negotiating?