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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

They're going to discuss all the issues, but which one will come first?

Anyone want to caption the picture? Saeb is either cross-eyed or has a lazy eye....

I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that news of the 'talks' is leaking out despite John Kerry telling the cameras that he would be the only one to discuss them. I'm sure you'll be even more shocked to hear that while the parties have in fact agreed to discuss all the issues, there's a dispute about the order in which they will be discussed.
Speaking on the Voice of Palestine radio, senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians want to talk about borders first, whereas the Israelis want to talk about all the issues at the same time. He added that the demand to talk about all the issues at the same time could be seen as an attempt to thwart a deal. 
Abed Rabbo added that the Palestinian Authority had informed the Americans that Israeli settlement construction would doom the peace talks.
Israeli officials in Washington said on Tuesday that the venue for talks from now on will alternate between Jerusalem and Ramallah. A date for the next meeting has yet to be set, but once underway, the negotiations are expected to be intensive and deal with core issues. General outlines will be formulated on each issue, after which professional teams from both sides will go into the details. Palestinian sources said talks would focus first on technical issues. The borders of the future Palestinian state and security arrangements that Israel is demanding won't be discussed during the initial stage, these sources said. 
Speaking on Israel Radio on Wednesday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who has been briefed on the talks, said Israel's position is that the talks are about the two state solution, with land swaps. "We are talking about two states and the settlement blocs. Ariel, Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim are part of Israel and the Palestinians are going to have to come to terms with that," Lapid said.
It's a funny thing, but I always thought that when we talked about 'settlement blocs' we were also including the area around Modiin, and the area around Givat Zev. As it happens, the larges concentration of Haredim in Judea and Samaria is in Kiryat Sefer, near Modiin. The second largest is Beitar, which is (as far as I know) meant to be included in Gush Etzion. And the third is soon likely to be Givat Zev, which is about five minutes out of Jerusalem. You think they're going to try to expel all those Haredim?

We've only just begun. What could go wrong?

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