Speculation on Kerry’s Plans For Israel, Palestinians

YERUSHALAYIM -

While  Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remains shrouded in secrecy, reports of what it might contain surfaced in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper over the weekend.

According to the report, Kerry is seeking a cessation of construction outside Jewish blocs in Yehudah and Shomron and the release of 103 Palestinian prisoners, and restarting peace talks for six to nine months, during which the two sides would work out final-status issues.

The report said that the Palestinians would be permitted to build in Area C in Yehudah and Shomron, which is currently under full Israeli control.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office declined comment on the report.

Meanwhile, paper produced by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University was reported by The Jerusalem Post as a likely guide to Kerry’s strategy.

The Baker Institute document recommends a formula on territories that calls for a kind of territorial equivalency. The sides would agree that the “quantity of territory included in Yehudah and Shomron, Gaza and Dead Sea territorial waters as defined by the [pre-]1967 lines will equal the amount of territory of the Palestinian state, following land swaps with Israel equal in size and value.”

How much land, in this formula, is more important than where that land is, as long it is of “equal value.” That formula could provide space for the Israeli blocs in Yehudah and Shomron.

The document is the product of experts led by Baker Institute fellows Yair Hirschfeld, a University of Haifa lecturer and one of the architects of the Oslo accords, and Samih al-Abid, a Palestinian participant in the Camp David, Taba and Annapolis negotiations.

Former ambassador to Israel and Syria Edward P. Djerejian wrote the forward.