Regev went on to list three essential elements to a deal for Israel: An effective security framework and guarantees, such as demilitarization of the Palestinian state, that “will prevent territory that is being vacated from being used as territory from which people will attack Israel;” Palestinian recognition of Israel as the legitimate nation-state of the Jewish people; and a final end to the conflict and to claims.
Regev said that one problem in the past was that people tried to isolate individual core issues, such as borders, from the broader negotiations. He felt that all of the core issues need to be addressed together. For example, the issue of security directly affects borders.
When asked about a broader perspective, Regev said Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to be flexible in the negotiations. “I’ve heard Prime Minister Netanyahu say more than once, that to get a peace deal he’s willing to be flexible on the political issues. What he’s said he can’t be flexible on, is the security and the safety of the citizens of Israel,” said Regev. “He will not take any step that could endanger Israel’s civilian population and put them under the threat of terrorism, of rockets, of aggression. He won’t return to a situation like we did in Gaza, where we pull out and hope for the best.”
Regev said they intend to present one possible way to handle some of the “more sensitive issues” by putting in place a staged step by step system that would gradually apply a peace accord in performance and time-based moves, rather than putting into effect all the aspects of a deal at once.
One issue that will need to be addressed quickly is the Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], which is due to end September 26. According to Haaretz, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened that if the freeze ends and settlement construction returns, then the Palestinians will halt the just-started peace talks. Regev said the future status of the settlements will be addressed in the talks, but said of the construction freeze demand, “We don’t put preconditions on talks. We don’t think the Palestinians should either.”
The US addressed that issue on Monday [August 23] shortly after the Bridges for Peace interview with Regev, with spokesman Philip Crowley telling reporters in comments posted on the State Department Web site that the matter would be dealt with in the negotiations.
“We are very mindful of the moratorium and the fact that it comes up for reconsideration during September,” said Crowley. “We’re very mindful of the importance the issue within the negotiation…There’s no mystery here that the issue of the settlement moratorium and as it would perhaps affect the negotiation has been something we’ve been focused on. It has been something we’ve discussed with the Israelis and Palestinians, and something we’ll be discussing—continuing the discussion on September 2.”
Regev expressed a realistic approach to the direct talks and its challenges, but also laid the scenario where a deal could happen. “We wouldn’t be [negotiating] if we didn’t think there was a chance to succeed…Peace is what we all want, and we hope it’s possible.
What is required is leadership with determination and with vision, leadership that is willing to take difficult steps, to challenge traditional narratives,” said Regev. “Now I know Prime Minister Netanyahu is such a leader, with vision and with a willingness to take tough decisions. If the Palestinians come to the table with similar decision-making, with similar vision, I think a deal is possible.”
Posted on August 24, 2010
Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, August 23, 2010)
Photo Credit: Photo by Isranet
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