The Palestine Papers
Talking Points and Questions - Abbas and Olmert - September 16, 2008

Document entitled "Talking Points and Questions," dated September 16, 2008, prepared for Abbas' Meeting with Olmert. The points cover permanent status issues, especially refugees and Jerusalem.

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Talking Points and Questions

September 16 2008


  •  Regardless of what happens in Israel, you are my partner until your last hour in office. I hope that we will remain in touch afterwards.


  •  We have come a long way since Annapolis ? I reassure you that the negotiations will continue between us uninterrupted.


  •  I have carefully considered the proposals you made to me in our last meeting. Despite the fact that I was not given the map you showed me, I have several questions to help me understand what you have in mind.


  •  I cannot fully assess your proposal without the map and a [detailed] explanation [in writing] addressing the questions I am asking you today.




  •  Does the proposal you showed me on the map include the Dead Sea, Jordan Valley, and East Jerusalem within the territory of the Palestinian state? Is that the baseline from which you calculated the swap percentages? If not, please explain in detail how you came up with these percentages.


  •  The sum total of the built-up areas of all the settlements in the West Bank is around 70 km2 (or 1.2% of the West Bank), yet you are seeking to annex around 500 km2 (what you presented as 6.8%).
    •  What is the basis of this demand?
    •  What interests are you trying to achieve?
    •  How do you see it addressing our interests, especially as Ariel, Maale Adumim, Givat Zeev, Har Homa and Efrat clearly prejudice contiguity, water aquifers, and the viability of Palestine?


  •  You suggested giving us territory from Israel equivalent to what you calculate as being 5.5% of the West Bank
    •  How much is that in square kilometres? 300 km2?
    •  How do you see the specific areas that you suggested to swap from Israel to Palestine addressing our interest of swapping territory equal in size and value?
    •  What is valuable to us, in your opinion, in these specific areas?


  •  I understood that you propose to divide the No Man?s Land equally between us. Is this correct?


Safe Passage / Territorial Link


  •  If you are proposing a territorial link,
    •  under whose sovereignty would it fall?
    •  Under whose control?
    •  What would be included in it (just a road, or will it include other infrastructure?)
    •  More specifically, regarding sovereignty / control, what actual powers do you seek ? would you have power to decide who uses it and when? Would you have the power to close it down?




  •  What does it mean to acknowledge the suffering of refugees, without reference to responsibility? How is that different from acknowledging the suffering of people as a result of, say, a natural disaster? How do you propose to deal with the issue of responsibility?


  •  If you recognise suffering, why do you refuse to deal with compensation for non-material damages?


  •  Why is the suffering of Israelis relevant to the refugee issue?


  •  Regarding the 1000 annually for 5 years: while we agree to negotiate the number of returnees in consideration of Israel?s capacity of absorption, this offer is not serious and cannot be accepted. Nonetheless, are you proposing this will be under the right of return, or on humanitarian grounds under your discretion? Given this distinction, who decides, and what would be the criteria for deciding who is included among the returnees?


  •  What does it mean to continue family reunification, and how is this linked to the refugees?


  •  How do you propose to deal with restitution? How do you offer to deal with the assets of the “Absentees”?


  •  How do you envisage your participation and contribution to the international mechanism?


“Ramallah-Bethlehem Link”


  •  Isn?t the assumption that East Jerusalem will be part of the state of Palestine? If so, why are you proposing a special link between Ramallah and Bethlehem? Where would it run?




  •  We agreed in Annapolis to negotiate all core issues. Why are you delaying Jerusalem? How do you envisage East Jerusalem? Do you propose to divide it based on Arab/Jewish neighbourhoods? Will there be a hard or soft border? one or two municipalities?


  •  What do you mean by “Holy Basin” and what do you propose regarding:
    •  Who administers it in the proposed “interim”?
    •  Who (which parties) negotiate the final status?
    •  What is the deadline for the negotiation?
    •  What happens if there is no agreement by the deadline?
    •  In the proposed “interim”, what will happen to the current Israeli policies, such as access, excavations and demolitions?


UNSC 242 / 338


  •  How does the proposal constitute implementation of the resolutions if it postpones the issue of Jerusalem and the “holy basin”?

General Questions


  •  Under the proposal, will there be a full withdrawal (including evacuation of all settlers, and redeployment of all military and security personnel) to the agreed border? If not, what specific exceptions do you have in mind?


  •  We have proposed, on security, the presence of a third party and no Israeli presence. Do you agree on both?


  •  Since the proposal makes no reference to water, are we correct in assuming then that the agreement for allocation of water will be based on international law?


  •  Since the proposal makes no reference to compensation, can I assume that compensation for occupation will be resolved in accordance with the principles of international law?


  •  Do you agree that all prisoners will be released upon the signing of the agreement?


Concluding remarks


  •  As I said, even though I saw the map briefly, I did not see the details, and I certainly did not memorize it. So I hope you will submit to us the full proposal, including the map and answers [in writing] to the questions I asked you today.


  •  I reiterate to you my commitment to continue our negotiations uninterrupted, regardless of the internal situation on either side.


  •  However, settlement expansion, particularly in and around East Jerusalem, is making our task much more difficult. Therefore I ask you to comply with your commitments and immediately freeze all settlement activity for the mutual benefit of both our peoples.


[Other issues: Ahmed Hilles, Cars, Deportees, Chamber of Commerce (East Jerusalem)]