Israeli and Palestinian sources reported that a new round of talks will take place in Jerusalem today between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams; according to Israeli sources, core issues will be discussed.
The core issues, which were the reason behind the failure of previous peace talks, are Jerusalem, Settlements, refugees, water, borders, and security.
The Palestinian team will be headed by Chef Negotiator Ahmed Qureia while the Israeli team will be headed by the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Last week, during his visit to the region the U.S President George W. Bush, Palestinians and Israelis agreed to start their final status talks. The Palestinian Israeli peace process was reinstated last November during the US sponsored one day conference for Middle East peace that took place in Annapolis, Maryland USA.
In Annapolis Palestinians and Israelis agreed to restart talks on the basis of the Road Map Peace Plan that was orchestrated by Bush in 2002.
The Road Map Peace Plan states that Israel must stop its settlement activity in the Palestinian areas and stop attacking Palestinians; in return the Palestinian Authority will stop all armed resistance groups from attacking Israel.
Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev confirmed with the Israeli media that a round of negotiations will take place on Monday, and that the Israeli team had received the green light to begin talks on the core issues.
On Sunday the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said during the Palestinian Liberation organization (PLO) central committee annual meeting that he will not accept a Palestinian state with temporary borders and that the negotiations with the Israelis must tackle the core issues.
Fouzi Barhom, the Spokesman of the Hamas movement during a phone interview with IMEMC deemed those meetings as pointless; ‘these meetings are pointless and have no meaning, they only serve to cover up the Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinians especially in Gaza, these meetings will only benefit the Israeli goals and occupation, which continue to enforce a life threatening siege on Gaza and settlement activity in the West Bank’.
Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, but the US refused their Authority and continued to back Abbas and his Fatah party, the Hamas movement was not invited to the Annapolis conference or the negotiations that followed.
Commentators like the Israeli political analyst Sergio Yanny say that Israel is using these meetings to buy time and are not willing to solve the core issues, ‘these meetings are part of a show that is called Annapolis, refugees will never come back, Israel will only give the Palestinian Authority control over Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and will not allow the creation of the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967. They will offer this to the Palestinians on a take it or leave basis; this was the reason why peace talks have failed in the past as will happen this time.
There are around 270,000 Israeli settlers who live in more than 120 settlements inside Palestinian areas and Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said to the Israeli media on Sunday that it is a disgrace that the unauthorized settlement outposts are still there, four years after Israel said it will remove them. Olmert was talking about the 26 settlement outposts that are the home of 400 settlers which were built without the government authorization, but the army continues to provide them with services and security.
However, media reports suggested that the position of Olmert is threatened due to warnings by some parties to withdraw from the government, once these talks commence. Israeli sources said that Olmert is expected on Monday to meet with Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Israel Byetuna party, which has warned against any final status with the Palestinians.
Liberman has always embraced a racist ideology, calling for the transfer, once and for all, of more than 4 million Palestinians from the ‘state of Israel’.