So, it seems the Annapolis conference is on its way. A date of November 25th is being suggested. As one who has been involved in negotiations with the Trade Unions of the UK in their heyday before moving here, it seems to me that the “shopping list” of demands is somehow rather distorted.
On November 5th, Mahmoud Abbas spoke in Ramallah, in Arabic of course, and made clear his commitments and demands. Now, I have no experience of international negotiations but having looked at the translation, I feel that no further comment is necessary.
For the Palestinians, Abbas reiterated that he is committed to implementing and abiding by the obligations under stage one of the road map. What that really means is anyone’s guess, since stronger leaders than Abbas have said the same and not implemented a thing. So, what confidence there can be in the weak Abbas’s statement that he will implement anything?
Abbas then continued for the rest of his speech on his expectations of the commitments from Israel:-
a) Freezing settlement activity, including natural growth
b) Removal of settlements
c) Opening institutions Jerusalem that were closed prior to September 2000
d) Release of prisoners
e) Removal of checkpoints in the West Bank
f) Israel to stop its military aggressions in the West Bank and Gaza
g) Stop confiscation of land
h) Stop demolition of houses
i) Stop construction of the wall
j) Stop assassinations
k) Not to affect the humanitarian needs of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.
Now if negotiations were to be really serious, I would have thought that somewhere in the speech there would have been some reference to terror, the need to build a social infrastructure for the Palestinians (Israel built the hospitals, Universities, clinics, etc, in the period 1967 -1990, nothing has been built since), the need to develop a judiciary, but no. What I see is the longer shopping list of demands with no specific plan for dealing with the root of the problem.