Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Israelis, Palestinians Open U.S.-Backed Conference With Vague Statement on Timeline, Goals

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

A Good Interview

"......For more on the Annapolis conference, we're joined by two guests. Mustafa Barghouti is an independent Palestinian lawmaker and democracy activist. He is the former information minister of the Palestinian Authority. In 2005, he ran for president, finishing second to Mahmoud Abbas. Daniel Levy is a former Israeli peace negotiator. He served as adviser to the governments of Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin. He is currently a senior fellow of the Middle East Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation. They join us both from Washington, D.C......

AMY GOODMAN: Mustafa Barghouti, your response to the summit at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, the only official thing that came out of this is the statement, the joint statement, and in that statement, the Palestinian delegation failed to present any of the Palestinian demands. Basically, the Palestinian delegation, being very weak and with great doubts about how representative it is, made one concession after the other. And everything they promised the Palestinian people, they failed to achieve. They didn’t mention the issue of Jerusalem; the issue of borders; the freeze of settlements, which we’ve been asking for. And basically the whole document and the whole outcome of the meeting has practically met every Israeli need or demand. What Livni promised has happened, which is that security comes before negotiations, and it becomes a condition of negotiations. What is most drastic is that after all this big gathering and all these expenses on such a conference, or a meeting, all we get is the same road map that was there back in 2003 and that was never implemented.

And in my opinion, what happened was very risky, because instead of discussing the real issues, the Israeli side managed to mobilize the American side; to marginalize completely the Quartet, which has no role from now on; to completely ignore and omit any mentioning of the basis and reference of negotiations, like UN resolutions, United Nations decisions --

AMY GOODMAN: The Quartet being -- Mustafa Barghouti, the --

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: everything that used to be mentioned, like international law, international humanitarian law. Everything was dismissed. The only reference that remains is what Israelis accept and what they don’t accept. And the whole issue becomes an issue of how the Palestinian Authority will be transformed to become a security subagent for occupation. And that is a condition. If the Palestinian Authority does not fulfill that, which is objectively impossible, then there will be no progress on any field. In my opinion, that is very dangerous. And it is really quite dangerous that the Israelis managed to get everything they want without any balance.......

But I think all the Arab countries will probably walk out of this conference feeling very bad about how they were treated, about ignoring the Arab initiative. And I know that the Israelis consider this as a big achievement, because they think this gives them a green line now for -- a green light now for normalization with Arab countries without solving the Palestinian issue....... "

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