Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kadima ministers sound off on negotiations with PA

Mofaz warns Olmert of signing permanent agreement with fragile government, Dichter has reservations regarding PA capability on delivering and Livni says not to turn blind eye to difficulties of Abbas government Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz issued a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the rest of Kadima on Monday, calling for the party to determine its position on various sensitive issues prior to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

With the US-led international summit on the horizon, Mofaz laid out his personal manifesto, which objects to a permanent agreement with the Palestinians at this point.

Mofaz also believes temporary borders should be established – which would include the main settlement blocs – while the return of Palestinian refugees to Palestinian territories would only be arranged after an agreement had been reached on the subject.

Mofaz's letter also says that the future of Jerusalem should only be discussed as part of a permanent agreement.

"The international summit this coming November opens the door for progress with the Palestinians. But it is clear to me that at this time the Palestinian Authority is not stable and in its current form it is not a partner for a permanent agreement. As the ruling party, we have a responsibility to provide a political horizon to both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people, to give them genuine hope that the change is possible," wrote Mofaz.

Mofaz said that what is needed is an interim agreement and that the influence of the Arab nations must be harnessed to build a stable leadership for the PA so that a future permanent agreement could be made possible. Trying to reach a permanent agreement with the PA while it cannot even enforce law and order in its streets "would be like trying to learn how to run before you can walk, it's doomed.

"This attempt will do more harm than good, we've already seen how running amok for a permanent agreement has ended in the past," wrote Mofaz.

Only upon the completion of every phase of the interim agreement would a new phase be discussed.

Livni: Israel must go into talks with eyes open
Meanwhile, Mofaz is not the only Kadima official to weigh in on the talks. Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni said on Monday that Israel should enter the talks with its eyes open.

"I am a firm believer in dialog between ourselves and the Palestinians and a firm believer in dialog with the current group we can engage. I am for this dialog, even though I think it is our responsibility to look at the difficulties here. This group is not in control of all of the Palestinian Authority and we pay a price for that every day. The children of the day care center in Sderot paid for it today," she said.

Livni said that Israel must make it clear to Hamas in Gaza that it will not allow the Qassam attacks to continue.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, who just last weekend stated his unwavering support for Olmert, said that Israel must exert caution when approaching the talks.

"Since Hamas took control of Gaza, things have gotten extremely complicated. Our role is to make sure that the Palestinian Authority makes it through some phases before we can conduct serious negotiations with it," he said.

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