This is an account of the recent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Jordan by Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid. It indicate a limited but still more substantive discussion of the border and Jordan Valley issues than was my previous impression. This is the headline and subhead of his Haaretz blog piece of Feb. 17:
Netanyahu’s border proposal: Israel to annex settlement blocs, but not Jordan Valley
The proposal that came up during the Israeli-Palestinian talks in Amman effectively means a withdrawal from 90% of the West Bank, and is very similar to the one proposed by Tzipi Livni [during 2008].
If this account is accurate, which it seems to be, it provides a number of points for reflection: For a right-winger, Netanyahu represents a moderate position vis-a-vis the Palestinians; it is even softer regarding the Jordan Valley, which he no longer insists on annexing. But it is a few steps back from previous Israeli positions, e.g., with no discussion prepared for Jerusalem (which to be realistic must be divided or shared with the Palestinians). There is a frustrating pattern here of right-wing Israeli leaders softening from traditional hard-line positions (e.g., Sharon, Olmert, Livni and Netanyahu) but never quite enough.
I see the need for more far-reaching and generous offers on the issues (along the lines of the Geneva Accord), but both sides must be more sensitive to how far their interlocutors have gone and what constitutes their basic needs and red lines. As usual, both sides show every sign of failing to do so. We’ll see what happens with the Palestinian coalition government effort between Hamas and Fatah, but I find it hard to envision anything positive from it.