maandag 7 januari 2008

Israël en PA eens over agenda voor onderhandelingen

Men lijkt vooral afspraken te hebben gemaakt over hoe afspraken te gaan maken, oftewel welke mensen in welke commisies welke onderwerpen gaan bespreken. En daar werden ze het zowaar over eens. Een hele doorbraak.

Israel, PA to form panel to negotiate core issues
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 08:10 06/01/2008

Israel and the Palestinians will negotiate the core issues of their conflict in a special committee to be headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia.

Negotiations over the core issues - refugees, Jerusalem and borders - will begin after U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to the region this week, while the remaining issues will be discussed in other committees.

The agreement being finalized between Livni and Qureia changes the format of negotiations over the core issues which, until talks stopped in 2001, were discussed in three different committees.

A senior political source said Saturday that the special committee will allow the two sides to engage in a real dialogue. "This way it will be possible to carry out negotiations without pressure - neither political nor through leaks - and we will be able to make more progress," the source added.

Bush is due to arrive in the region on Wednesday at the start of an eight-day visit which aims, according to the White House, to bolster American allies in the Middle East.

The U.S. president will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority and will then leave for Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In addition to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Bush will hold talks with the heads of the countries he will visit on Iraq, regional security and economic relations.

Since the Annapolis conference in late November, in which Israel and the PA pledged to strive for a final-status agreement within a year, talks between the two sides have been low-key with no progress evident. The sense of an impasse intensified following contentious meetings regarding continued Israeli construction in settlements and in East Jerusalem.

However, Haaretz has learned that Livni and Qureia have achieved significant progress during a number of meetings that did not receive media attention. For example, during a meeting last Wednesday the two agreed in principle that the negotiations would be held on three levels.

At the top level, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would continue to meet every two weeks and focus on monitoring the progress in the negotiations, while they serve to break deadlocks in the negotiating committees. Livni briefed Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on this agreement.

The second level would include the main committee, in which Livni and Qureia will coordinate negotiations on the core issues. The two sides have not yet agreed on which of the issues will be discussed first. The meetings will be between Livni and Qureia, and possibly some aides will be included.

The third tier will include subcommittees, which will be created to negotiate every other issue.

In parallel the two sides will discuss matters that will affect a final-status agreement, through various committees. Central to the discussion will be issues such as security, its implementation, road map obligations, disarmament, the deployment of a multinational force and dividing airspace.

The committee on security issues is likely to be headed by the chief of the Political-Security Department at the Defense Ministry, Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, and Palestinian Interior Minister Abd al-Razek al-Yihiye.

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