Palestinians suddenly want to talk as sovereignty date nears

The PA sent a four-page outline to the international Quartet calling for the restart of negotiations from where they left off in 2014.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has sent a letter to the Middle East Quartet saying that it is willing to restart negotiations with Israel if Jerusalem abandons the idea of applying sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, Agence France-Presse reported Monday, having obtained a copy of the text.

The Quartet consists of the U.S., UN, EU and Russia, which ceased working as a group on the peace process several years ago. This is the first time that the PA has addressed the current U.S. administration even indirectly about its peace plan. It had broken off relations with Washington after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2018.

“We are ready to have our state with a limited number of weapons and a powerful police force to uphold law and order,” the letter stated. The PA would accept a UN-mandated international force like NATO to ensure both sides’ observance of the terms of their deal, it added.

On June 9th, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh mentioned that the Palestinians had prepared a counter-plan to the one put forth by the Trump administration.

The PA’s opening position was that it was “ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped.” This was in April 2014, when talks overseen by then-Secretary of State John Kerry collapsed after a nine-month deadline passed without any agreement being reached.

One of the stated Palestinian positions from those negotiations included insistence on retaining at least 97 percent of Judea and Samaria. The current letter suggests the possibility of  “minor border changes that will have been mutually agreed upon, based on the borders of June 4, 1967.”

This is in stark contrast to the Trump plan’s vision of 30 percent of the disputed region coming under Israeli sovereignty.

The PA proposal also repeats its oft-stated threat of late that “if Israel declares the annexation of any part of the Palestinian territory, that will necessarily mean the annulation of all signed agreements.”

According to the UN charter itself, Judea and Samaria are part of the area of then-Mandate Palestine that was given to the Jewish people to settle, and never belonged to any other state or people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated this fact numerous times to counter the claims of Palestinians and the international community that Israel would be illegally annexing land that does not belong to it, if and when it applies Israeli law to any portion of the area.

In a pre-recorded speech Sunday to a virtual summit of American Evangelical supporters, Netanyahu said that he was willing to negotiate with the Palestinians and urged them not to miss this “historic opportunity.”

Last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote in a Facebook post that if the Palestinians were serious about restarting negotiations, “I’m ready to be in Ramallah tomorrow morning to discuss this.”