Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Discussed in San Francisco
Pasquini, Elaine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS DISCUSSED IN SAN FRANCISCO
Hassan Abdel Rahman, chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in the U.S.; Daniel Shek, consul general of Israel in San Francisco; and Rajendra Abyankar, consul general of India in San Francisco, discussed the Middle East peace process at the San Francisco World Affairs Council April 6.
Referring to the previous negotiations as "brainstorming," Abdel Rahman said, "It's time we get down to business... We have stormed our brains enough." He said failure of the two sides to reach agreement quickly on even a framework of the issues will have a negative impact on the peace process, and delay the Sept. 13 target date for resolution of the dispute.
"If there is a will on the Israeli side, we can reach an agreement," he stated. The Palestinian position, he clarified, is that "the Israelis withdraw to the 1967 borders in accordance with U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338." Recognizing that the Israelis and Palestinians are destined to live together, they must live as equals, he said, and "not as the occupier and the occupied--not as master and slave.
"We do not like the heavy Israeli foot on our neck," he explained. "The time of colonialism is over." He described the humiliating checkpoints which sometimes prevent Palestinians from reaching Israeli hospitals for medical treatment during an emergency. "We don't like checkpoints and to be dealt with as foreigners in our country," he said.
"Since the Palestinians have conceded 77 percent of historic Palestine to the Israelis, leaving the Palestinians with only 23 percent" consisting of Gaza and the West Bank, he said, "no Palestinian leader alive today will give more." Further, he said, "The 1967 borders have to be respected, including Jerusalem." Nor can Jerusalem "be exclusive to any group," he continued. "It must be an open city for all faiths."
He believes Jerusalem should not be redivided, but that it should be the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine. …