By Press TV
By Mohyeddin Sajedi
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has called on Israel to give a positive response to Jordan’s initiative for reviewing the possibility of bilateral talks, under supervision of the Middle East Quartet group — the US, UN, EU and Russia.
Halting settlement activities, the recognition of Palestine and Israel based on the 1967 borders, and freeing Palestinian detainees were some of the preconditions Erekat set for talks, warning that Israel should clear its stance until January 26.
According to a previous statement by the Quartet, Israelis and Palestinians should announce their final viewpoints to reach a permanent solution until January 26. The Jordanian government has also said that it will not continue its mediation efforts after the deadline.
Official Palestinian sources say Israel verbally mentioned some 22 points last week which were no different from earlier statements in the previous negotiations.
Israel wants to maintain its major settlement projects in the West Bank. It also wants the Palestinian side not to consider the right of return for the Palestinian refugees based on UNSC’s resolution 194. Tel Aviv would also like Palestine to agree to the Israeli troop deployments along the West Bank and Jordan border.
This is while Israel is at the same time against leaving Eastern al-Quds.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has also said Israel’s stated positions in Jordan talks are no different from Tel Aviv’s earlier policies.
The negotiations that will proceed this week have been opposed to by Hamas, which has recently taken major steps in reaching a deal with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.
The US and Israel have openly opposed a compromise between the two main Palestinian factions.
The closer Mahmoud Abbas’ government gets to talks with Israel, the farther it will get from the Hamas movement, endangering the internal reconciliation, formation of a national unity government, and the process of elections.
Truth is nothing has changed on the Palestinian-Israeli negotiation front to demand a new round of talks. Especially that Israel is expanding its settlement constructions in the West Bank and is erecting new buildings to the east of al-Quds (Jerusalem). This while from the UN point of view the lands are part of the occupied Palestine and Israel has no right to make any changes to it. Israel has also recently declared this city as the Jewish capital, which is a blatant example of racism.
What has changed, though, is the situation around Palestine, which is directly related to the new developments in the Middle East, the uprising of Arab nations and the prospects of an escalation in crisis in the Persian Gulf.
Jordon, like most Arab countries, is facing internal opposition and the appointment of a new prime minister hasn’t succeeded in quelling the political and social crises in this country. What matters for the Jordon king is to be able to fill in the place of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak during the phase preceding the Egyptian revolution and his role as mediator between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Mahmoud Abbas and his allies are threatening that they would take up more serious action after January 26. Some of these measures probably include calling on the United Nations Security Council to probe Israel’s settlement policies or going to the International Criminal Court to try some of the Israeli army commanders. Of course, with the US influence in the United Nations, there isn’t much hope of success.
Abbas’ chief threat is taking up civil resistance against Israel’s settlement and other measures.
Jordon is concerned that this civil resistance might provoke the Palestinians which form the majority of its population. Recently, there has been news about transferring Hamas leaders from Damascus to Amman. Even the Jordanian officials have said the Qatari crown prince along with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal would soon travel to this country.
Hamas leaders, however, are aware that they cannot have the same latitude in the Jordanian capital as they did in Damascus to command anti-Israeli operations. Close relations of Jordan’s government and intelligence apparatus with the US, Israel, and the UK, will limit their freedom of action. Media reports also indicate that Saudi Arabia is against Qatar’s initiative for moving Hamas to Jordan and believes that Hamas should first distance itself from Iran.
In any case, relocating the Hamas movement to another country whose government aims to host Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to promote its own standing in the Middle East, will not be compatible with the movement’s policy and historical backdrop.
Some Jordanian analysts say the king of Jordan fears that establishment of Hamas in his country may further strengthen Jordan’s Islamist figures that form the pivot of the country’s opposition groups.
Another possibility, however, should be taken into account. Negotiations in Jordan are only aimed at keeping the peace talks going, not achieving the final goal through an ultimate solution to the crisis in Palestine. The US government has asked both sides to engage in negotiations whose main goal is to maintain calm in Palestine and prevent further escalation of crisis at a time a new war in the Middle East seems more probable as a result of a possible US-sponsored attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and Iran’s retaliatory response.
Heightened political and psychological pressure exerted by the US and the West cannot be considered independent of Iran’s forthcoming parliamentary election which is less than three months away from now.
Escalation of military threats, however, is also related to other issues in the Middle East, the most salient of which are the ongoing crisis in Syria as well as Iran’s similar positions to those of Russia, China, and other members of the BRICS (which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).