Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams have recently begun formulating a joint declaration for the regional peace summit in Annapolis scheduled to take place on the 26th November. The Reut Institute identifies a number of dilemmas and questions facing Israeli decision makers before the summit.
The Annapolis conference is an international conference under the sponsorship of the United States that is due to take place on November 26th in Annapolis, Maryland. Apart from the Israeli and the PLO negotiation teams, participants are expected to include representatives from Egypt, Jordan and possibly neighboring Arab countries as well as from the G-8 countries and permanent members of the UN Security Council.
In recent days, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams have started to formulate an agreed document or join declaration to be presented at the conference.
Despite the press release published after last week's Olmert - Abu Mazen meeting, there is still a gap between the two sides regarding which issues the declaration should refer to. While Israel is hoping for a general non-binding 'declaration of intent' that vaguely refers to outstanding issues; the Palestinians are insisting on a more detailed document.
The Annapolis conference and the peace process pose a number of dilemmas and questions for Israel:
1. Are the November conference aims attainable? There is a possibility that the aims defined for the negotiations are unattainable: Israel and the Palestinians do not have the ability (within six weeks) to reach an agreement that is substantively different from the Clinton Ideas or any other previously signed agreement (for more details click here).
2. Is the Israeli negotiation team organizationally prepared? During previous negotiations, Israel had a considerable advantage over a Palestinian team that was disorganized and even amateurish at times. The current members of the Israeli negotiation team meanwhile, do not possess the required experience on the issues that will determine Israel's future (for more details click here).
3. The Negotiation Agenda: Forward or Backward looking? The agenda for IL-PL negotiations was created in 1949 to resolve the '48 conflict. It is time to frame the agenda around the issues of future state-to-state relations. This agenda should impact the present negotiations over a Declaration of Principles / Framework Agreement for Permanent Status (for more details click here).
4. What is status of UN Resolution 194? Israeli recognition of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 as a basis for resolving the refugee issue is likely to be used as a tool by supporters of the Ethos of Struggle to advance the return of refugees back to the villages and homes they left in 1948 (for more details click here and here).
5. What is the difference between a 'Permanent Status Agreement' and 'Permanent Status? The term, 'Permanent Status Agreement' refers to a document outlining permanent status and regulating the way to get there. 'Permanent Status' meanwhile, refers to the reality created after the 'Permanent Status Agreement' and the implementation and resolution of outstanding issues. The thorough understanding of these concepts will assist in defining the goals of the current peace process (for more details click here).
6. Who will the Palestinian State represent? In theory, the issue of Palestinian representation should be straightforward - the Palestinian State will be the sole representative of its citizens; in practice however, this issue raises a series of important issues. Israel should insist that the Palestinian State - if and when it is established - will only represent its citizens (for more details click here).
7. What is Jordan's role in the peace process? Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have far-reaching consequences for Jordan. Jordan's interests should be kept in mind from the early stages of negotiations (for more details click here).
8. What will be the fate of the Palestinian right to self-determination? Will the establishment of a Palestinian State fulfill the Palestinian right to self-determination and remove this issue from the agenda? Or would a group of Palestinians continue to claim that their rights remain unfulfilled even after the establishment of such a State? Would Israeli Arabs be allowed to have a dual Israeli-Palestinian citizenship? (For more details click here)
9. When will the two sides declare an 'End of Conflict' and 'Finality of Claims'? Even if currently there is little likelihood of reaching an 'End of Conflict' and 'Finality of Claims' it is important for Israel's international standing to agree on the conditions that would signal their fulfillment (for more details click here).
10. What are the main issues and interfaces between the future Palestinian State and Israel? For all intents and purposes, the establishment of a Palestinian State should be a simple political act. In reality, it raises a series of diplomatic and political issues with long-term significance (for more details click here).