Meeting Minutes: Borders – Ahmed Qurei, Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni
Meeting minutes on border. Palestinians stressed the 1967 border. The question of East Jerusalem and territories around the 1967 border. Qurei’a reacts to Israeli proposition, “This solution is not the two-state solution. It is the five-state solution: a state in Gaza, a state in Jerusalem, a state for settlers, a Palestinian state and an Israeli state.” Livni’s reaction to 5 million Palestinian refugees, “We do not create a state for every refugee we create a concept.”
Livni: Let us be fair. You referred to 1967 line. We have not talked about Jerusalem yet. There are some Palestinian villages that are located on both sides of the 1967 line about which we need to have an answer, such as Beit Safafa, Barta’a, Baqa al-Sharqiyeh and Baqa al-Gharbiyyeh. There are also some settlements that were built behind 1967 line but expanded inside 1967 line illegally, such as Uranit settlement south of Hebron.
Qurei: In light of these circumstances and these unrealistic propositions, I see that the only solution is a bi-national state where Moslems, Christians and Jews live together. In Israel they do not realize our needs. Is our demand for the 1967 borders too much for us?
Erekat: I mentioned earlier that the establishment of the Palestinian state is the answer to the issue of 5 million Palestinian refugees, but this does not mean that you should make this state smaller.
Inpal Hotel (Larome)
8 April 2008
- Ahmad Qurei (Abu Ala)
- Dr. Saeb Erekat
- Dr. Samih Al-Abed
- Salah Ilayan
- Zeinah Salahi
- Tzipi Livni
- Udi Dekel
- Tal Becker
- Dani Terza
Livni: I would like to say one thing before reviewing the maps. I know that what you will see will make you feel like we are taking it away from you. You will say that we are taking your hands and your legs, but I hope you will look at what there is on the other side. We are in need of it not because we want your land but because we do not wish to evacuate people from their homes. We are talking about 250,000 settlers living in the West Bank and we would like them all to remain living in a small area. I know that every inch hurts you.
None of us has touched the heart of the other yet (Jerusalem).
Before the presentation, I would like to understand one thing. Abu Ala talks about 1.5% for swap and Abu Mazen about 2%.
Abu Ala: Abu Mazen revoked. He does not want any percentage for swap.
Livni: Does this percentage have any basis, or is it simply a generous donation from you?
Abu Ala: Even though we do not acknowledge the realities on the ground imposed by Israel, the concession we made in Camp David is our willingness for swap by reciprocity and value. There was no talk about settlement blocs. There is talk about settlements in Israel only. We have never recognized these settlement blocs and therefore we suggested swap for a reasonable percentage and not a greedy swap, provided that we discuss how and where swap should take place. If you had asked today, we would have never agreed on swap.
Livni: I want to tell you about your needs and then translate them into a percentage. I will try to explain to you that it is need and not greed. If we do not annex them and if there is bloodshed after the establishment of the state then you will be forced to see our soldiers. This is something we do not want. We try to give an answer by reducing friction between both sides.
We will present our needs since we are still in the negotiation stage, and then experts will work to minimize them in some areas.
Abu Ala: I cannot accept these principles. It is like taking all your money and then negotiate on how much to return to you. The beginning is half the end.
The basis is 1967 borders. You and the whole world including UN resolutions number 242 and 338 recognize this. Then we can talk about modifications. I will look at the percentage if it is 1% or 2%, but if it is more I will not look any more.
Livni: Then you already object.
Udi: The first meeting on economy was good do not spoil it.
Samih: The first depends on what is achieved here about the land.
Saeb: You presented your position. We will listen but only remember our position as it was presented by Abu Ala. The 1967 borders are the basis for the two-state solution; and we can discuss swap.
No negotiation track in the world will be successful if this track will fail. The aim is to serve the interest of both sides and reach a win-win situation. The more realistic we are in our proposition, the more progress we will achieve.
Livni: I do not want to present to you what causes you grief and misery.
Abu Ala: You said yesterday in a press statement that you have red lines. You answered this when you were asked whether we also have red lines that we cannot give up.
Next meeting they can continue to discuss many things, including means to remove settlements and others.
You have come with what you want and we have come with what is realistic. We hope they will continue to meet.
Terza: Of course, there will be the safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There is no need to bring this up.
Livni: Look, this is the answer to smothering the West Bank with Maale Adumim. The distance between Maale Adumim and the Jordan Valley is 17 kilometers, and the distance between Tulkarem and the Green Line is 14 kilometers.
The instructions I gave for putting the maps are:
- to include the largest possible number of Israelis;
- to exclude Palestinians;
- to include constructed areas or areas under construction;
- to exclude areas that have been organized;
- to take into account security needs;
- to link between them and Israel.
Terza: This is the line for the terms of reference.
Livni: What you call 1967 line.
Abu Ala: She cannot even say the word!
Terza: This is Gosh Etzyon area and it includes the settlements of Kfar Etzyon, Bitar Illit, Ephrat, Daniel, Alon Shafot, Teqoa.
It includes all constructed areas in addition to plans currently under construction.
Abu Ala: Does this mean that any area where there are no Palestinians should be given to Israel?
Terza: The area of Gosh Etzyon is about 544 square kilometers.
Saeb: What about the green area on the map?
Livni: I asked myself this question, and my answer was that it is for connection to create a vital zone. The problem here is topography.
Terza: Its area is 3.5 square kilometers and the population in Etzyon bloc is 50,000 people.
Livni: There are a number of small settlements for which we have to find an answer in the agreement.
The population in Gosh Etzyon is 50,000 people representing less that 1% of the West Bank area.
Let us now look at Maale Adumim.
Terza: It includes Maale Adumim, Kfar Adumim, Almon, Mitzape Yeriho, Alon, Kidar, and the industrial settlement of Mishor Adumim, and its area is 85 square kilometers. The population is 40,000 people and represents 1% of the West Bank area.
Livni: Today there are roads for the Palestinians and roads for the Israelis and all the roads are under Israeli control. We are talking about the next day and not the situation today, since we are living in the same area. In the future there will be roads in Palestine and each side will have sovereignty over its roads.
Saeb: What about the areas around Jerusalem?
Livni: We will discus this when we talk about the issue of Jerusalem.
Terza: ModiinIllit is 11 square kilometers and its population is 45,000 people.
28,000 people live in Ariel alone and the population living in surrounding settlements (Ariel bloc) which are like fingers (the fingers of Ariel and Kadumim) is 70,000 people and its area is 131 square kilometers.
Livni: I know what you are going to say: these fingers will pluck out your eyes. There are some small settlements that I exclude such as the ones near Nablus, for example.
There is no Israeli leader who will sign an agreement that does not include Ariel.
Abu Ala: And there is no Palestinian leader who will sign an agreement that includes Ariel.
Livni: Let us be fair. You referred to 1967 line. We have not talked about Jerusalem yet. There are some Palestinian villages that are located on both sides of the 1967 line about which we need to have an answer, such as Beit Safafa, Bartaa, Baqa al-Sharqiyeh and Baqa al-Gharbiyyeh. There are also some settlements that were built behind 1967 line but expanded inside 1967 line illegally, such as Uranit settlement south of Hebron.
Abu Ala: First, we cannot accept this proposition and I am sorry to hear it. This solution is not the two-state solution. It is the five-state solution: a state in Gaza, a state in Jerusalem, a state for settlers, a Palestinian state and an Israeli state. I do not think this will be the basis for any discussion.
Shlomo Ben Ami wanted to propose this to me but I told him no. Look how much Maale Adumim has expanded since you suggested the swap. Thus if you want to be realistic and are concerned about the continuation of this channel, you have to come up with a realistic proposition.
I cannot look at you needs but I can look at swap by a realistic percentage.
If you want to terminate the PA with this proposition, we will leave it for our future generations to demand our rights.
Terza: Maale Adumim was 64 kilometers in Taba.
Livni: At any rate, Taba is not a term of reference.
Saeb: I mentioned earlier that the establishment of the Palestinian state is the answer to the issue of 5 million Palestinian refugees, but this does not mean that you should make this state smaller.
Will what you need be swapped?
Livni: We do not create a state for every refugee but we create a concept. This is what happened in Israel when the state was created. The Jews came to the state and not to the land. There are things on the ground that you hate but they are there.
There is enough chance to reduce the needs that we have proposed.
Saeb: Will you compensate us for what you will take?
Livni: We will talk about the type of compensation.
I know that your position is for 1:1 swap. I said I cannot accept this percentage, but we will negotiate.
I know that Abu Mazen has proposed this to Olmert but Olmert refused it. I know that you have your ideas and I suggest that during next meeting you propose them.
Abu Ala: I agreed to listen to your propositions because I thought you would come with realistic propositions.
In light of these circumstances and these unrealistic propositions, I see that the only solution is a bi-national state where Moslems, Christians and Jews live together.
In Israel they do not realize our needs.
Is our demand for 1967 borders too much for us?
Livni: I did not say it is too much for you.
Abu Ala: Is it because settlers have come and settled in our land? Many countries occupied other countries and set up colonies but in then end they left them. The Soviet Union is the best example. They colonized many Islamic countries in Central Asia and left everything. There are many other examples from the world that shows this.
Livni: What you are saying is that there are no settlements you can live with?
Abu Ala: For the sake of the Palestinian state I may be ready to swap for small percentage.
Livni: I am not telling you to take this proposition or leave it, but what I am saying is that these are our needs.
Abu Ala: In Oslo we said that everything should take place gradually.
Livni: I do not like gradation.
Abu Ala: Now I do not like it but it was the only possible choice in Israel.
In one of the meetings with Abu Ammar and in my presence, Rabin said he would set up a fence around each settlement 50 meters far from the farthest house in it.
I said: Does this mean organization?
He said, “This is a decision.”
If negotiations continue and Olmert goes on with the implementation of settlement construction including Jerusalem then 15% of the territories will be cut out.
For us the territories mean the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and No Mans Land. This is what the final agreement should include, and in this way all Palestinian claims about territories come to an end.
Livni: Why will No Mans Land go for you?
Abu Ala: And it is not yours. We can negotiate on it.
Livni: The gap is not big. It is about 350 450 square kilometers. Future generations will blame us and never forgive us if we lose this opportunity because of this gap.
Abu Ala: Then like what I said. The solution is a bi-national state from the sea to the river.
Livni: I suggest that during next meeting you present your ideas about this subject.