Thursday, October 31, 2013

Peace is closer than you think

By Gershon Baskin for the Jewish Chronicle

There is a journalistic urge to report, matched with politicians’ needs to be quoted and publicised. Most senior politicians cannot easily admit that they don’t know what is being discussed, in what are probably the most important issues facing Israel and Palestine.

Gershon BaskinMy advice to the readers is remember this: those who speak don’t know, and those who know are not speaking.

I have met negotiators from all sides (Israel, Palestine and the US). I have been told by all, two things prior to all my meetings: “We [meaning them] are in a listening mode only, and you cannot tell anyone that you met us.”

Within those very clear restraints, I will try to convey what I understand from my conversations and from the requests that I have received for information, ideas, proposals, and possible wording. I would venture to say that my assessments are as close to the truth as possible — without really knowing.

The negotiations are very serious, they are not deadlocked and significant progress has been made. There are up to six people in the room — Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho on the Israeli side, Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Sthiyeh on the Palestinian side, Martin Indyk and Frank Lowenstein from the American side.

It was reported that Israel wants to focus on security issues and the Palestinians on the border issues. All of the issues are on the table — security, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, water, economic issues, education and incitement, recognition issues, and more. The issues are not being negotiated separately.

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