The Israeli negotiator in 2008 held detailed talks with his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat on the refugee issue.
Tal Becker was a key Israeli member of the Annapolis negotiations in 2008. Photograph: World Jewish Congress
Tal Becker, legal adviser to the then Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, was a key member of his country’s negotiating team in the Annapolis process.
The offspring of a Moroccan father and an Australian mother, he still speaks with the accent he acquired growing up in Melbourne. Becker studied at a yeshiva (talmudical college) in the West Bank and immigrated to Israel in 1994.
During his military service he was a legal adviser to the army in Gaza and was involved in negotiations over operating a “safe passage” between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s.
Becker began working in the foreign ministry in 1998 and prepared legal advice on borders and refugees for the Israeli team at the Camp David summit in 2000. In 2001 he went to study in New York while working as legal adviser to the Israeli delegation to the United Nations.
Along with his Palestinian opposite number, Saeb Erekat, Becker did the bulk of detailed negotiating on the refugee issue in 2008. In one meeting he protested that Israel could not acknowledge responsibility for the refugee problem. “In our point of view this is basically asking us to take on their (Palestinian) narrative.”
The Palestinian negotiators got to know him well. Erekat understood that something unusual was going on if the Israeli official phoned him several times late at night – as Becker was normally in bed by 10pm.