Some reports say there is dispute between USA and Palestinian Authority for example release of prisoners and security…
No. it is not true. It is something suggested by the Israelis. The Israeli government suggested the possibility to postpone for one month or minimum 2 weeks the release of the prisoners. Our answer was that the deal was with Mr. Kerry. So, we expect that the Americans will respect what was their commitment regarding release of prisoners. Anyhow, it is an open discussion about this. Mr. Kerry will be back in one week, but the main problem was not about the release of the prisoners – it was about separating security from borders.
When we began the negotiations the deal was to arrive to a framework to a final status about the core issues but mainly about Palestinian sovereignty and Israeli security concerns. And not to concentrate only about Israeli security concerns from the point of view of the Israelis. This is something that is wrong to be discussed in details in the next visit of Mr. Kerry.
It was reported that Israeli presence will remain in Jordan Valley for a while. Is it acceptable idea for Palestinian Authority?
It is unacceptable the way it was proposed – and always it like the way the Israelis think about these matters because the Americans are the mediators. They try to bring what the Israelis say or answer. As for the presence of the Israeli army – Netanyahu used to speak before – 5- 6 years – that he wanted Israeli military presence in the Jordan valley for a period of 40 years including the tops of the hills. This was unacceptable. When Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state there was meeting in the house of Mr. Netanyahu and he suggested this that and our answer was – no way. Because it means the continuity of occupation under another name.
Now, in the new suggestion- it was for 10 years, but who decides to prolong this period is what the Israelis consider their security concerns. If you accept for 10 years – there is no guarantee that they will not say: there are dangers to our security, we are preoccupied with our security – there is something far away. Whenever they speak on why they want their army to remain in the Jordan Valley They say that Iraq is unstable, they don t know about the future of Jordan, they are not sure about Saudi Arabia, they are not sure about Iran and Pakistan and maybe they arrive to Japan… it is nonsense. Mr. Kerry knows well what our position about this is. We already accepted regarding the security the day after the declaration of Palestinian state the presence of third party. The Americans were in favor of this. The ex-government of Israel- of Olmert and Livni also accepted this proposal. Now, discussing these new ideas of Mr. Netanyahu and his government – president Obama and Mr. Kerry know well that the Palestinians will not accept them. This means that the occupation remains.
Can you give us more details about Kerry's ideas on security?
This what he presented. 10 years of Israeli army presence. This is what I can say now.
May be Israeli army in addition to international forces- like UN or NATO?
Yes. But on the ground it will be Israeli army. This is unacceptable and also in the checkpoints there will be Israeli presence.
So after independence you will not accept any IDF presence?
We accept only gradual Israeli withdrawal.
For how long?
3,4,5 years. The problem is not here. The problem is to accept the idea that the sovereignty, the control on the borders, is the responsibility of the Palestinians. Otherwise, you cannot speak on sovereign state. The Israelis will continue controlling the borders and they will decide who will enter and who cannot..
Last time Kerry said that there was progress in the peace talks. What was the progress?
What Mr. Kerry considers progress does not mean that for both parties, or at least for the Palestinians could be considered as progress. Maybe for him exchange of ideas represents symbolically a progress.
We said from the beginning: we don’t agree only when we agree on everything. Because we want to arrive to the end of conflict. We are not in need to another Oslo which means temporary agreement. When you come to the application it is more complicated. Mr. Kerry and the administration know well. Until 1993 we are negotiating with the Israelis. It is time not speak on provisional agreement—it is time now to speak about the framework for the agreement and in order to go procedures you can say that international guarantees that it will take 3.4.5 years maximum. We cannot go back to what happened in Oslo. So, we can say that in 2 years the Israelis withdraw from here and here and here. So, there will be clear decision about settlements, Jerusalem will be open city, capital to both states – how to achieve it- we have to say that in order to confirm that there is a progress. This did not happen yet.
What is the difference between interim agreement and framework agreement?
We are to accept framework agreement with international guarantees for timetable of application. The Israelis speak on interim agreement, or state with provisional borders on 40% of the West Bank. This will not lead to any agreement.
So what are the negotiations all about?
Practically speaking- the Israelis are not negotiating. This is the main obstacle- they are not negotiating. They talk on things around the negotiations- people to people projects, and so. It means that if you want to speak like this – it will take 100 years – and they will continue settlements. The Americans are trying to find a way how they can convince Netanyahu but they know what kind of government Netanyahu has. This is the most extremist government that existed in Israel. Many of his ministers say that if Netanyahu pronounce 1967 borders he will be expelled from the Likud. If he speaks on Jerusalem – his government will collapse. This is why. Some of the ministers, including Yair Lapid say that If Netanyahu decides to take courageous decisions he must change the coalition. This coalition is the most extremist- they repeat every day that this is our land and so on. (This is the problem. Mr. Kerry really knows But is trying, to what degree Mr, Netanyahu is able to have certain vision that in a state of keeping this government – peace is more important for Idsrael or not? tit this coaltion remaining as prime minister weaken his government there is hope you are dealing with th egovnememnt ofr setlers or persoins who came to Isral ionky 7 years ago feeling as powerful because they lived in former Soviet Union) to be re-checked better dropping.
Things are complicated – not easy.
Do you mean to say that specifying 1967 borders must be explicit in the framework agreement?
Yes! Everything is based on two states solution. What does it mean? Either 1947 or 1967 borders. What the Americans tell us—if he pronounces 1967 borders – he will be expelled from his party.
So the negotiations now- are not on final agreement but framework agreement
As I told – the Israelis are not negotiating about anything.
Can we say that it is best for the PA to reach final agreement, but it is ready to accept at least framework agreement?
Yes. The negotiations began as an American initiative. That literally says that in 9 months the 2 parties with our involvement will discuss frontiers and security in order to arrive to the option of 2 states solution on the basis of 1967 borders.
In the lack of agreement – maybe the Americans will present their paper on framework agreement?
We will see.
Will you welcome it?
The problem is – according to what we see, the pressures in the USA on the administration- it is clear that the pro-Israeli lobby is more extremist than many extremists in Israel. Here is a problem. If the proposals of the USA administration will be to convince Netanyahu to keep silent with the nuclear agreement with Iran as if to compensate him on the Palestinian track – I think in this case there will be no fair proposals. But it is premature now to speak about what are the proposals. Mr. Kerry is coming back. We already said publicly that we are ready to respect our commitments for the 9 months of negotiations. All we hope is that the Americans will respect their own deal- the release of prisoners in order not to go to UN specialized agencies.
This is something different than the negotiations.
In case agreement is not reached until the end of the 3 months that are left. Are you ready to extend it?
Till now it is not discussed. The problem is not one month, two months. The problem is whether the Israeli government is ready to accept what the entire world is accepting: the end of occupation. Mr. Kerry has said it publicly and before him president Obama. How can you talk on two states solution and one state is continuing to build on the land of the other that must be a state.
So, you will extend?
There is no need to talk now if there will be or not be extension. If in 9 months will not be able to arrive to agreement- what 2 more months may mean? It is already clear- or supposed to be clear to the Americans that there is party that is responsible for the failure. This is what the Americans said. In the end of the 9 months and nothing is achieved – we shall say publicly who is responsible for the failure. The Americans already know who is responsible – if they are just and fair – they know that the responsible is the Israeli government like every other country.
In case the release of prisoners will be delayed- what are you going to do?
In this case we shall apply to UN specialized agencies – and we can continue negotiations. We will not stop negotiations – but go the UN agencies.
International criminal court?
All. We shall see how to start. The agreement said release of prisoners and we shall not apply to UN agencies during the period of negotiations. If the Israelis now deny such an agreement which was with Mr. Kerry means that we go to the UN agencies and we continue negotiations.
If the all prisoners are released but still there is no agreement- you still go the UN?
If after 9 months there is no agreement- what can we do?
There were talks that the agreement is only for the West Bank- excluding Gaza—is it correct?
Not excluding Gaza. We are speaking on an agreement which regards all occupied Palestinian territories. Some Israelis say what about Gaza – there is Hamas there. We answer – it is our responsibility. We are sure and everybody is sure that if there is an agreement – the Palestinians want peace, they want to live in peace. If this is something which gives them the possible justice they will support it and will be in favor of it. But if there is no progress – so those of Hamas in Gaza will not say we are ready to make compromise. There will be strong popular pressure on Hamas. They know well, if there is an agreement that gives the Palestinians hope for a state, sovereignty – so no doubt that things will change.
Hamas said the PLO is the legitimate representative in the negotiations. They may criticize but they never raised doubts about the responsibility of the PLO on the negotiations.
Let us go back to basic principles that we began with: two states solution, and security. Here we are ready – To make combination between Palestinian independence and sovereignty and Israeli security concerns. The Israelis are not ready to talk about Palestinian sovereignty. They go around and around entering details and so on.
Khaled Mash'al said in the past that once agreement on 1967 will be reached – he will declare hudna with Israel. Once 1967 borders will be mentioned in framework agreement- do you expect him to declare hudna?
He said so, but hudna is not what we speak and what is in favor of the two peoples. . We want end of conflict. This is what is needed and not hudna for 5-10 years.