Despite the PA public rejection, the area, following the Israeli pullout of settlers, fully from the Gaza Strip and partially in the West Bank, and the redeployment of troops to the borders of the Palestinian strip, is de facto heading towards interim arrangements that are expected to characterize the living conditions in the Palestinian territories for several years to come and shape the nature of the final status solution.
Issues like border crossings and control over them, the contiguity of the Palestinian territories and the interim status of settlers and settlements are the core topics of the current negotiations.
While the Palestinian Authority has already declared its negotiations strategy, Israel is doing it’s at most to create more facts on the ground in order to influence the expected outcome of the interim arrangements talks.
From the P.A. Side, talks should focus on implementing the Sharm Al-Sheikh agreement, which calls for restoring the geo-political conditions prior to September 28, 2000, when the current crisis, known as Al-Aqsa Intifada, started. Yet, with the speed up of the construction of the separation wall, a new reality has been created, which has already defined the Israeli redeployment lines, leaving no room for negotiations. At the core of such a new reality stands the main principle of contiguity.
Whether contiguity means Israel-settlements integrity or Palestinian territorial one or whether it would be possible to achieve both? Being allegedly constructed to satisfy Israeli security considerations, the separation wall has already created a settlement to Israel contiguity on the expense of severely limiting Palestinians’ mobility.
As the outcome of the diplomatic process, as stated in the Road Map plan, which was initiated and is endorsed by the International community, is to establish a viable Palestinian state, ensuring the contiguity of Palestinian territories is assumed to be the principle that governs any interim arrangements needed in the way to achieve the stated goal.
It is evident that both the ongoing expansion of settlements, including plans to build new ones, and the construction of the separation wall are shifting the gear towards ensuring more settlements-Israel contiguity.
Working under the assumption that it is possible to create both Palestinian territories contiguity and settlements to Israel one is very misleading unless an extremely expensive technology is employed, which expected to exceed the financial resources used to construct most of those settlements.
The major question to be answered remains: why would both parties and the international community invest such needed resources for interim arrangements that defeat the purpose of the peace process, which is the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state?