Minutes from Expert Committee on State-to-State
11 May 2008 at 2:00 - 3:15 pm
Inbal Hotel, West Jerusalem
Dr. Saeb Erekat (SE)
Enas Abu-Laban (EA)
Gabriel Fahel (GF)
Bader Rock (BR)
Zeinah Salahi (ZS)
Yossi Gal (YG)
Lia Moran-Gilad (LMG)
Kameel Abu-Rukon (KAR)
Yacov Hadas (YH)
SE: How have you been?
YG: Not too bad, can't complain, how about you?
SE: I'm lying, I've been lying for the last weeks.
YG: Between jogging?
SE: No, no, lying, lying. I was in Cairo, I was in Jordan, I was in America. Everybody is asking me what is going on Israel, what is Olmert going to do?
YG: And you are telling everyone we are on the verge of success.
SE: And I always tell them this is an internal Israeli matter, a domestic Israeli matter and I keep lying. If somebody sneezes in Tel-Aviv, I get the flu in Jericho, and I have to lie. So that's my last week -- all lies.
YG: As a professor of negotiations, you know that white lies are allowed now and then.
SE: I'm not complaining, I'm admitting -- and sometimes I don't feel like lying.
YG: Well, around this table we won't be lying.
SE: Last time when we met, we promised to give you something, to develop a concept because I believe in the importance of this committee. So I will ask Enas to speak and to hand you something after she speaks and then I will elaborate a little bit. The most beautiful thing in life is to admit that women think better than us men. And if you admit this you are in good condition anywhere: home, workplace, and any place. I have twin daughters. One is an eye surgeon. And one is doing a PhD in public administration. I really believe that it will take me 3000 years while my wife, Nimeh while standing in her place, for me to catch up with her and the way she thinks.
YG: I think we can agree on that.
SE: Now I have Zeinah coming, I have two ladies with me.
EA: As the Doctor requested last time we prepared negotiations principles which will create the framework for our discussions. And will make it clearer on how we move forward. If we agree on these things it will be easier for us to move forward. We developed 12 principles.
The first is recognition of sovereignty of each side for external and internal relations.
The second is the linkages between this committee and the rest of peace treaty that is to be completed between the two sides. We need this kind of coordinate to ensure a comprehensive agreement is reached.
YG: I'm not sure I understand this. What is the point. Of course we should coordinate with the other committees.
EA: Excellent. Then we agree on the principle.
YG: Is there anything behind this?
SE: No. Once we agree on this, we need to go specialist -- to go sub. Even if we go sub -- this will be linked to AA and Livni. Continue.
EA: The third principle is that we have defined agendas for each committee: infrastructures, economics and the others. The most that are linked to this committee is Infra and Economics and there is a high tendency that there will be duplication. To avoid that we need to make sure there is a clear division between the committees. Because we don't want to discuss something here and then have the other committees contradict with our decisions. So this coordination and division of labour is very important as a principle.
YG: Before you proceed. Dr. Saeb raised a question in the earlier meeting -- he had other ideas on what should be in this committee. Do you know what you want in the Infra, in this committee? Because we went through a long list of issues…
SE: We are putting forward only four issues for this committee now. You have 10, we have 4. And then we are going to have our own internal debate and then maybe it will be different.
EA: The fourth is what do we see covered in this committee: tourism, health, archaeology and agriculture. The problem we have with the list you shared with us last time is communications and transportation. Kameel is part of the Infra Committee and he knows that these are part of the inventory list we discussing in Infra. This is a clear duplication and we want to have the division because most of the issues are covered by the Infra aspects.
YG: Just to make sure I understand your position. We discussed Transport and Communication in the last meeting and we made the distinction between what is infra and what falls under S+S. Don't get me wrong, if this is what you want…
SE: Why do you just focus on the principles for now. And let's see… believe me the issues will fall into place -- I am not going to waste me energy on who's who at this stage. Unfortunately, I know too much about Palestinian inner politics and Israeli inner politics to allow myself to… now, at this stage, where everybody doesn't know what is going on -- who's who -- your defense minister, Abu Ala'a, Saeb, Abbas -- who belongs whom -- I don't want to waste any of my energy on that. I want you to focus on the principles right now. But that doesn't undermine your position that you asked for 10 issues.
EA: But also Doctor, as a principle for this, we thought that a file as a file should be discussed totally because everything is linked to each other. For example, Transportation covers everything from the infrastructure, to the relations, to everything as one item. So we don't want a division in the decidable issues with some in this committee and some in another committee because they are very linked. This is the principle.
YG: I'm simply trying to understand.
SE: That's why we are trying to make you understand.
YG: I understand fully what you are saying. We took the work of the state-to-state committee as all of those things that need to be discussed between two states. That's why we put so many other things.
SE: We can add immediately what you added -- diplomacy -- we can put it here. So that is number 5.
EA: The fifth principle is that if there are any security issues that are linked to S+S should be discussed in the S+S committee and not be transferred to any other committee. For example, if you have any security issues linked to Health, tourism, archaeology, then it needs to be discussed in this committee to make sure we are covering it from the angle that is required. For example, tourism between the two states may have a security component which is only one component and not the main component.
The sixth: you stated this in the previous meetings -- we know that we have lots of special relations due to the high integration that we currently have. We know that maybe in the future we will continue to have some special relations. Accordingly, maybe we need to agree on these special relations in the agreement.
YG: Give me an example?
EA: For example, right now in Health we have lots of integration -- we depend on the Israeli health care system, it is of a high quality, it is very close to Palestine, patients can go to the hospital, have the treatment and go home in the same day, it is very convenient, the quality is very high -- this is a type of special relation between two states. Maybe this is something we need to clarify.
On Archaeology: we share the same heritage, so definitely we will have some special arrangement to ensure there is no illicit trade of artifacts, the documentation of history, so these kinds of issues are of a special nature that definitely need to be discussed for the agreement.
YG: So some of the existing agreements you maybe interested in carrying over?
EA: Maybe. The tourism industry is another example where the current arrangements might be applicable for the future. We need to discuss it and see the interests.
The seventh principle - the nature of the issues we will be discussing. There are three main categories that we think will discussing:
The general agreement that will be necessary for these issues which includes the resolution of all of the claims. When we talk about archaeology, without talking about the return of artifacts as a major component of the archaeology agreement, we will want to have procedures, measures, time frames, all of these are crucial components.
The transitional arrangements. There is lot's of integration currently. How is it going to be, how are we going to hand over the responsibilities, relevant assets, documents, to make sure there is a smooth hand over and smooth development. If not, many things could be lost, disruption in services, lot's of problems that we would both be interested in avoiding.
Cooperation: it will need specific attention. For example, cooperation in using laboratories, and prevention of diseases.
YG: Take for example Agriculture, using your three elements, you are asking, first that we agree the issues that fall under Agriculture: phytosanitary, regulations, import/export, etc. So first we agree what falls under this category. Second: transitional agreement -- what happens between now and the time that Saeb and AA come to an agreement -- conditional between now and the agreement. And third, modalities for cooperation in agriculture.
EA: Yes, but the transitional arrangements is currently governed by the Interim Agreement. We are talking about the period after signing the agreement when everyone knows their status…
SE: The transition from when we sign and the completion of the implementation that we sign will be governed by existing agreements unless otherwise agreed to by the two sides. Right?
EA: The 8th principle is the use of international standards as we discussed last time. There are lots of instruments, treaties, regulations, laws, by-laws, standards, that are internationally agreed upon. E.g. UNESCO, WHO, etc., that you as a state are complying with, and to the extent possible, we are also complying with. This is one of the principles that would govern relations and would help us to move easier on this.
YG: I'm not taking any position here, but there are lots of treaties not every state is a member…
SE: What are the treaties you are not signing?
YG: There are many other states that don't sign treaties.
EA: But here we are talking about the relevant treaties to the issues we are discussing. Such as the illicit trade of artifacts (UNESCO), which can be adopted to cover our relations.
SE: Give it to us Yossi. We are trying to be over-protectionist at this stage, because when we speak about a country with limited arms, we cannot speak about a country with limited dignity. And this is why we have to cover ourselves with everything you do with our nations. Because at this stage we haven't sensed your concept of what you see to be a Palestinian state. All that we have seen reflected in all of the committees are fears, suspicions, doubting me, doubting my ability, and ever since I have never heard an Israeli official telling me he has trust in me. And they keep telling me "Gaza". Okay, I was a criminal in Gaza. I made a mistake. I destroyed myself, but even if someone shoots someone, they execute him once. I am being executing by Israeli officials and Israeli negotiators on the hour, every hour, in each session. So, this is why please understand where we are coming -- I just want to cut the long story short here: We haven't seen any attempt by any of you, Olmert down -- and the last time we sit with you and play "neon: stupid" on our foreheads -- because we don't see exactly where you are coming from and where you are going, and so on. So, as a state, we feel the need to protect ourselves with international law, treaties, conventions… maybe in the future when we see that you are changing your attitudes… like for instance, on security. You know when you say there are threats coming from the East in Israelis minds, that is when Palestinians take over Jordan. And because of that 28% of the Jordan Valley must be have emergency locations, I don't know, soldiers… I am being so honest now -- I am not lying -- because I lied too much last week for Israelis, and I am telling you where we are coming from.
YG: Let me be equally honest with respect to this specific article. We have to study this document…
SE: That's my second point: please study it, and study it carefully.
YG: We take you seriously of course and we have to study this. But let me tell you quite frankly where we are coming from. And I believe that the reason that I asked about Article 4, the fact that in the previous meeting we came up with such a long list for our issues…
SE: You came with 10 issues.
YG: In a way, this is interpreted by you and/or your lawyers, because what we have done is to take the Israeli government…
SE: No, I understand that, that is why I came to you personally…
YG: The Israeli bureaucracy have gone through each and every aspect of our government and we are telling you that we are willing to discuss with you…
SE: No, no, Yossi, please point of order. Listen to me carefully. I am not referring to you. I am not referring to here. Last week I appreciated when we met that we are no longer guided by the Kameels. Kameel means…
YG: The mechanisms of the past.
SE: The mechanisms of the past: Polly, etc. We are not being run by the administrators -- the little gods. And I appreciate this on the record. That I noticed an effort by you to treat us on such a basis. I am not referring to you when I say that we are trying to protect ourselves… as Palestinian negotiating behavior. Once we feel we are being taken for a ride, we get protective -- that is the only defence. Because ever since Eve negotiated Adam, I am the most disadvantaged negotiator in history. No country, no army, no navy, no economy, people are fragmented, defeated in Gaza, so that is -- I am trying to explain to you why we these 8 with all of these caveats. Protection.
YG: I listened very carefully to what you said and of course we will relate to that. I just wanted to be equally clear that the mandate was to take all of the aspects of state-to-state relations. What we have done incredible effort going through each and every…
SE: And I acknowledge that, and I appreciate that.
YG: Because we believe that all of these are elements. But fine, let's continue.
SE: But please, before Enas continues, I promised you in the first meeting to cut the long story short, so we are introducing principles. And because I need a lot of experts, I am beginning with the 5 issues out of your 10 that you gave me. This is diplomacy. Study it, study it carefully and see how you respond to us. And nobody came to speak to me for a very long time. So everything I submit to you is not Koranic, is not Talmudic, it is only for discussion, alright? I could change my mind tomorrow. You could change your mind tomorrow. And let us be open and free to think the unthinkable without holding each other by saying you said "such and such" a month ago. No. Let me think freely with you -- that is the whole purpose.
YG: You have excellent lawyers because the paper is titled "without prejudice" "non-paper" "for discussion purposes only" "confidential".
SE: This is Palestinian protectionism. One day I will do a book titled Palestinian negotiation behavior.
YG: I mean, there is no adjective in the English vocabulary that you didn't put here. GO ahead please.
EA: The ninth principle is to cover anything that is not covered by the international order or regional instruments. And there maybe something that we may need to develop and agree upon bilaterally. Of course we have a very integrated relationship and maybe be an issue in the future.
YG: Can you give me an example here. To make sure I understand you, you are saying everything that is not covered by…
EA: International instruments. For example, Agriculture: our cultivated areas are very close to each other because of the topography. So if we don't have clear coordination on the types of crops that are cultivated in these areas, the pesticides used, the protections against pests and diseases -- all of these things are unique to Palestine and Israel and are not covered by the SPS, FAO, or any international instrument. It is specific to Palestine and Israel.
SE: Let me give you another example. A much more realistic example. We know that the nations are guided by principles of extradition that countries sign with each other. We may, in the beginning between Israel and Palestine, come to an agreement that may something new -- a frontier for relations between nations. Maybe if an Israeli comes and steals a car in Jericho and I arrest him and send him to court, maybe because of the situation of the war (wall?), and 40 years and all, maybe I want him to spend a sentence in an Israeli jail. And maybe you too. If you think about it, there are many many things that we may have -- and this is what we mean about things that are not found in international law and will be subject to bilateral agreement. And our bilateral agreement in these areas will be the law.
EA: On the 10th principle -- the decidable issues for each of the big headings we are discussing, like on Health, what are the sub-decidable issues and the timetables needed for discussing. After we concluded the principles together we can go to the decidable issues.
The 11th principle -- that each party will bring the experts and personnel it finds necessary. For example, if you find that one of the issues has a security concern, you are free to bring a security expert from your side to make sure that everything is discussed on this table and this table only.
YG: I am just trying to understand your thinking -- what problem is this supposed to solve?
GF: This relates more to the security issues…
SE: Like the agricultural issues, we will need to have subcommittees and experts and every field, in diplomacy, in agriculture, in environment, in all of the issues we are going to agree. Enas is not your expert in everything, or Saeb Erekat. Neither you.
YG: We suggested at the very first meeting that we will start immediately engaging the experts. Either you or us…
SE: That's why we want to agree on this so we can bring the experts.
EA: The 12th principle that is relevant to the previous one -- bringing all the experts -- the last principle is to make sure that none of the decidable issues agreed upon in this committee will be exported to another committee….
SE: Why can't you have this by both heads… what I am saying is by both heads -- Livni and AA, for instance? It is out of taste. We go to them with these issues. If they want to move -- they move. Let's not limit it to Yossi or whoever will come here.
EA: We will leave it to a higher…
SE: To the plenary. Anyway, this is an attempt to have something in writing and we are open to hear you. Study it. Because we don't want to come every time and speak, speak, speak, let us lock in what we speak about.
YG: To move forward -- first, thank you very much for your presentation -- fortunately or unfortunately we don't have lawyers here, but we will have to study it…
SE: We have four. Yacov you are not a lawyer?
YG: Luckily for him he is not. Okay, we will respond to this in our next meeting which will hopefully not be in two months.
It is important to understand how you want to proceed. Let me explain to you what we are doing on your side and what we have prepared already. I wish to come out of this meeting with a clear understanding of how you want to proceed. We have taken the list of the other committees (Legal, Economics, etc), and we have decided that everything else that does not fall under the other committees falls under this committee and it was clear to us the span of this committee will be quite wide. We have done a lot of work with each and every bureaucratic body in Israel trying to understand what is currently talking place between Palestinians and Israelis, but more importantly, we are to imagine tomorrow what are the issues under your responsibility that you want to put into the agreement. This exercise was good only to a degree -- without engaging their counterparts on your side, there is a limited ability to clarify positions and interests. On a number of the issues the interests have not been identified. Let us try to identify interests that are common to both sides and let us identify the others and talk about them. That is why we suggested from the beginning we engage the experts -- in most cases they already know each other. Our agriculture and tourism people speak to your people.
SE: I have one thing I want to bring your attention to. Enas was speaking to me about it. The current experts I have are so bogged with the day-to-day issues and really -- when we sent Hazem Attalah to discuss with Amos Gilad about the day after -- they end up speaking about how many bullets and who will go to Jenin and who will come out of Nablus. I don't want to do that. So what worries me about the experts that know each other on the day-to-day issues, they cannot really liberate their thinking from they are doing now. Say, for example Mohamed Mustafa who is responsible for communications, can he come to a an Israeli meeting without raising Wataniya? Which is a new company. I don't want him to do that. I want the experts to focus on the… and that is my worry about bringing those people who know each other now to discuss the issues of the future. So I asked Enas to tell me who is not involved. To be fresh-minded person to talk about the day after -- and let those who deal with today, deal with today -- they will deal with all of the transition until we reach a state.
YG: Saeb, we made very clear to all of the people we talking to in the ministries that we are interested in thinking about a peace agreement between two states of Israel and Palestine…
SE: No, I am not questioning your concept, I am just trying to go down from the general principles to the reality. I want to take the vision -- once I take these experts from agriculture and archaeology, and communications, and put them now to discuss the day after, they will fail. I have been following it.
KAR: Arabic: That means I should go home.
SE: No, no, no.
YG: What other alternatives do you have?
SE: I am talking about experts per se in agriculture, archaeology, communications -- I want to focus -- I asked Enas to tell me names of those who haven't been involved in the day-to-day negotiations. Because Amos Gilad will never be able to speak about the day after. He will be at the meeting at 4 o'clock and that will be the sentence I speak to him.
YG: You will determine who your experts are. It is not for me to tell you. But if you take agriculture, we are going through with our experts and we asked them to identify what are the issues and there are issues like the economic and trade arrangements for agriculture. Second, all of the norms and regulations like phytosanitary that are in both our interests, what are the standards and norms for veterinary and then future cooperation -- things like that. This is just an example of the family of issues that are not relevant to the day to day -- like how many tomatoes do we let in -- but what are the visions for the future arrangements between you and us on agriculture.
The second thing is, how do you envision this in 2 or 3 meetings -- do you go with all of the committees (Tourism, Agriculture, etc) -- the people on our side are ready and I can bring them at a week's notice.
SE: I would answer this question without consulting my lawyers and I will pay for that later. I rather begin with the plenary here to make sure we give them the right instructions so they know what to do. The agriculture experts come with us for 2 or 3 meetings until they know that they are ready. And the same for the others. We will bring one day agriculture, one day communications…
EA: Not communications.
SE: Not communications. Health, Archaeology, Diplomacy.
YG: Do you see this in one meeting or 4 to 5 meetings?
EA: If you want to go into the details of the sub-issues, then you don't want…
SE: Five or more. We can have 2 -3 meetings every week if your time… I am willing to meet with your 3- 4 times a week.
YG: Fine. One comment and of course we will study this. We will have our lawyers study it.
SE: Who is your lawyer, Daniel?
YG: No, we have plenty of lawyers. We can give you some too.
BR: That will be part of the Economic Relations treaty: trade in services.
YG: Joking aside, we have too many lawyers in our system.
SE: We love lawyers in Palestine.
YG: There is a joke that in universities that they started experimenting on lawyers because there are more lawyers than rats.
Since we are lawyer-free here, the reason we wanted to go directly to the engagement of experts is really not to waste time with principles that the lawyers will have to review…
SE: I need a week to prepare ourselves.
BR: If I may make one comment: Of course the exercise that you did with the ministries is very important and came up with a list of issues. But the exercise is theoretical for two reasons: first, that is your visions of you see the issues; and the second thing all of these issues need to be coordinated with the committees themselves. For example, on agriculture, one of the sub-issues might be export and import of agri products. But by definition that is one of the issues we have already agreed to in the Economics committee which is to be discussed and negotiated in the Economics committee. So after we do this exercise of identifying the issues, we need to coordinate it with the other committees so that we wouldn't have negotiations on the same issues coming out with different results and agreements on the same issues. I see this committee as a basket committee that captures…
YG: In the good sense of the word -- not a waste basket.
BR: In the good sense. It needs to capture all of the issues not captured in the other committees. For example, the Culture of Peace committee will have to deal with education or sports…
YG: That is why education is there -- I did not put it on the list here.
BR: Really, we have to coordinate.
EA: Exactly that is why put the principles to define the issues and coordinate primarily with Infra and Economics. We know there is a high potential for duplication and that is why we first have to define the issues and then make sure it is discussed in one venue and not allow for contradictions.
YG: I fully understand what you are saying. And we suggested more than that in the first meeting. If your negotiators decide on a certain economic regime, it will determine the agriculture chapter in the agreement. And second, we don't want duplication but understand where we are coming from. When we gave you the list we did this because of our approach to all of the areas that will be under your responsibility as a state…
SE: We have 5 major issues we can begin with.
[Hebrew discussion between KAR and YG]
YG: We should speak in English.
SE: It's okay, I understand body language.
YG: What my good friend is saying is that we take agriculture, that even if we agree that the agri of Palestine is totally independent, there are still issues that in both our interests have to be discussed like Mad Cow disease…
BR: Cooperation and coordination will always be an issue…
SE: And I agree with Kameel. I am patient. I am really patient with Palestinians and Israelis. There are so many things in our minds that Palestinians want to establish. I think Kameel is absolutely a visionary -- a man who sees…
YG: Saeb, what do you see coming from this committee to be included…
SE: Look, I well tell you something out of my experience between Livni and AA. The agreement, the treaty, one day will be drafted -- the core issues will be between 20 - 25 pages. And there will be 922 pages of materials and annexes, and this track here will have 812 of the 972 pages. People don't understand the little details of the state-to-state relations. You know - borders: agree (67 minus/plus becomes 1968, 1968 -- numbers, alright?). Once it is agreed, it will be finished. Yerushalim, the greatest capital of the history of the undivided Jews in all of the history of mankind, it will be reached one day with Al-Quds being the capital of the Palestinian state. Water -- international law, aquifers, water courses, maritime boundaries: done. Refugees: you know, Israel will be generous enough to accept 5 million Palestinians to go back to Haifa, and so on.
YG: Only five?
SE: Five, that's it, we are not asking … you know. Security it will be determined…
YG: Yes, but this goes to the heart of my question: are we here discussing sentences over a 25 page document?
BR/SE: No, no, no, no. I know the work here, the drafting is going to have bondora, have to deal with diseases, emergencies, sewages. I have been lying about domestic Israeli affairs -- there is no such thing as domestic Israeli affairs. I am your domestic Israeli affairs. If somebody sneezes in Tel-Aviv, I will get the flu in Jericho and vice versa. So most of the written materials that will guide the relationship in the treaty will be concerning these issues.
YG: But what part of this do you want included in the initial 25 page document?
SE: We don't know yet -- that is what we are here to discuss.
YG: So you are talking about 2 pages…
SE: Maybe in the 25 pages the parties agree the state-to-state relations, environment this, education, water, whatever it is….
YG: …will be agreed between the two side…
BR: Even in Oslo the state-to-state provisions weren't very long but they had annexes…
SE: Annex III, the Civilian Affairs, was 80% of the Interim Agreement. And when I told AA that your issues will have 15 pages he was "ehh", and then 80% came to CAC -- the empire.
EA: If I may Doctor…
SE: Wait. Yossi, sometimes maybe if can include some…
YG: If there is a need.
SE: If there is a need. That is why we have this approach now. And that is why we are coming to you sleeveless and that is why we said we accept experts to engage and that is why we want you to study this carefully and come to us…
YG: You want us to come with the experts for the next meeting?
SE: No, no, we want to finish this. And by the way, we agree to this, we don't want it to be part of the agreement. So this will guide our work -- that's it -- we are not going to sign it. Guidelines for our work and our experts.
BR: We are doing the same exercises in other committees. In Economics we are trying to come up with a one-pager to guide our negotiations -- because we can't just negotiate.
SE: Yeah -- at the beginning, they were saying no papers, no writing: fears, Palestinian fears. What we have to really -- if we need an agreement by the end of the year -- if Olmert and Abu Mazen give me the damn percentages and how many refugees, I will give them a treaty in 3 months.
YG: You are a professor of negotiations.
SE: That's right. Look, negotiators are not decision makers. I am not a decision maker and I don't think negotiators should be afraid of anything. Leaders make the decisions, not me. I used to tell Arafat: listen, I will split the atom for you, it is your god damn job to use it to make desalination plants or an atom bomb. But since you are a decision maker you don't prevent me from submitting to you every option available. And the same thing to Abu Mazen, and to Abu Ala'a. And that is our job.
EA: Just one last thing…
SE: But quickly, because we have to go.
YG: Why quickly? We always give the ladies the last word.
SE: I'm asking, I'm begging her…
YG: Why, what is happening?
SE: Me and Zeinah are engaged in two more meetings today.
EA: After we finish this thing, it is very important because we are going to have lots of subcommittees that will have to be guided by these principles to start their work. You prepared your interest list, we call it decidable issues that we prepared. And the second stage is to go into details to figure out what has to be decided in the subcommittees. And at that stage we will have our experts and yours sitting at the same table with Dr. Erekat and…
SE: I have been preparing for this for 3 or 4 years. So I have an advantage over you guys. So, use me. Really, I am literally speaking. We have been preparing for this day for four years.
YG: Since I wanted to give you the last word, I will shut up. Thank you very much and we will be in touch to meet again as soon as possible.
END TIME: 3:15 pm