Responding to Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans as prime minister of Israel to change focus from a two-state solution to an ‘economic peace’ plan, a chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, writes in a Washington Post op-ed that:
"Rather than ending the occupation, Netanyahu has proposed an "economic peace" that would seek to normalize and better manage it. Instead of a viable Palestinian state, his vision extends no further than a series of disconnected cantons with limited self-rule."
Saeb Eraka outlines three requirements for peace. They are:
(1) "The first is intent. Palestinians and Israelis must renew their commitment to the vision of two states existing side by side in peace and security."
(2) "The second factor goes to the heart of credibility. By repeatedly violating its obligations under previous agreements, Israel has undermined the very credibility of the peace process. Restoring that credibility is vital. This requires that Israel implement an immediate and complete freeze on settlement activity, including all natural growth and the construction of Israel’s wall, in keeping with both international law and its obligations under the 2003 "road map." Without a settlement freeze, there will be no two-state solution left to speak of."
(3) "The third factor concerns accountability. A credible enforcement mechanism designed to hold both parties accountable for their obligations under previous agreements must be established by the "Quartet" of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. And America must serve as the honest broker capable of creating a level playing field between Palestinians and Israelis during talks."
According to Haaretz, one of Netanyahu’s first acts as prime minister will be the, "the formation of an administrative body whose task is to promote economic peace with the Palestinians." There has been no mention of a viable two-state solution by him, and concern among some is that the very idea of a Palestinian state will be discarded in favour of control or annexation of many parts of the West Bank and focus on economic policy married to current police action to manage any fallout.
Meanwhile, Egypt continues to serve as a cantankerous negotiator between the two Palestinian political organizations of Fatah and Hamas. It has now refused to attend the annual Arab Summit at Doha this end of March. No official reason has been given yet Doha has been supportive of Hamas while Cairo strongly backs Fatah. I find it strange that Egypt can have such a strong reaction and bias to the inter-Palestinian conflict yet forward itself as a fair mediator in negotiations between the two parties.
AFP reports that: "A senior Egyptian official is in Damascus to meet Syrian and Hamas officials ahead of renewed Palestinian unity talks next week, a Palestinian official said on Friday. Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s deputy Omar Kinawi will push for Palestinian reconciliation during the meetings, said Nabil Shaath, a senior official with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party."
(First published at nmaleki.com)