Is Israel about to concede Temple Mount?
Both entered into peace talks in order to gain as much as they could and give away nothing. Abbas' senior adviser added: Had we managed to keep Jerusalem, the Jewish state would not have risen in Tel Aviv.
Abbas rejects Israel as Jewish state and demands undivided Palestinian control of Temple Mount, among a host of other concessions.
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice decided on 5th November to set a date for the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland she has been promoting. It will take place on 26th November, even though her talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah with Israeli and Palestinian leaders uncovered assent on only one small point: both sides agree that the event need not be preceded by accord on all the core issues of the dispute.
In setting the date, Rice made the best of Palestinian intransigence on six major points. The noes she encountered in Ramallah are disclosed as:
1. The Annapolis declaration will include Palestinian recognition of Israel - but not as a Jewish state.
2. The boundaries of the future Palestinian state will follow the pre-1967 War lines with minor adjustments through territorial swaps. A few hundreds of square meters may be offered on the West Bank in return for areas in central Israel, not the Negev.
3. Palestinian sovereignty over Temple Mount, the holiest shrine of the Jewish people, must be undivided and include the Jewish place of worship at the Western Wall.
4. The right of return for 1948 refugees is absolute and non-negotiable.
5. The future Palestinian state will enjoy full sovereignty, including its air and electromagnetic space and underground resources, such as water.
6. Negotiations after the Annapolis conference must be concluded by Aug. 2008.
The Palestinians chose that date because it coincides with the Republican Party's primary for electing its presidential candidate and bid President Bush farewell.
Notwithstanding the Palestinians' inflexibility on all the core issues of the dispute, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is determined to attend the conference declaring that Israel has at last found a partner for peace talks and without the meeting, the Middle East will plunge into catastrophe.
A partner for peace?
Only on their terms…