In the second half of January, US Secretary of State John Kerry plans to formally hand Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas Washington’s proposal for a framework peace accord. Both have already been apprised of its content.
DEBKA Weekly’s Washington and Jerusalem sources have obtained exclusive access to the five-page document, which is not characterized as an agreement but a working draft. Both parties are invited to make comments, insert corrections and either add or subtract clauses, when such changes can usefully contribute to the negotiating process.
The nine clauses of the framework document are listed hereunder:
1. Nearly all of its content draws on the proposal former prime minister Ehud Olmert submitted to Abbas on Aug. 31, 2008, which was never accepted by him or approved by any Israeli authority.
2. Territory: Israel will annex 6.8% of the West Bank including the four main settlement blocs of Gush Etzion with Efrata; Maale Adummim; Givat Zeev;and Ariel, as well as all of the “settlements” of East Jerusalem and Har Homa – in exchange for the equivalent of 5.5% of Israeli territory.
3. The Safe Passage: The territorial link between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would cut through southern Israel and remain under Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian control.
An international commission for Jerusalem’s shrines
Our sources add that out of all other options, the American sponsors of the accord prefer to build an express railway line from Gaza to Hebron, without byway stops, which would be paid for by Washington. Abbas has already informed John Kerry that he wants the train to go all the way to Ramallah.
There will be a special road connecting Bethlehem with Ramallah that bypasses East Jerusalem. This is mostly likely the same route currently planned to go around Maaleh Adummim.
Since the safe passage will cross through Israeli, accounting for 1% of its territory, this area will be deducted from the land Israel concedes, leaving 4.55% for the land swap with the Palestinians.
4. Jerusalem: East Jerusalem will be divided territorially along the lines of the Clinton Parameters with the exception of the “Holy Basin,” which comprises 0.04% of the West Bank.
Sovereignty over this ancient heart of Jerusalem, with its unique and historic concentration of Jewish, Christian and Muslim shrines, will pass to an international commission comprised of the US, Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
5. Refugees: This issue will be addressed according to guidelines proposed by President Bill Clinton at Camp David in the year 2000 – and rejected by Yasser Arafat.
An International Foundation will be established to resettle the bulk of the Palestinian refugees in Canada and Australia, except for a small portion to be accepted in Israel in the framework of family reunification.
Settlers outside the “blocs” will make their own decisions
6. Security: The Olmert package made no mention of security. However the Kerry draft deals extensively with this issue and Israel’s concerns. It calls for the evacuation of all 10,000 Jewish settlers from the Jordan Valley leaving behind a chain of army posts along the Jordan River. Security corridors cutting trough the West Bank will maintain their land and operational links with Israel.
Border crossings will be set up between Palestine and Jordan with an Israeli security presence. The security section of the draft assigns the use of West Bank and Gaza airspace by Israel and the Palestinians.
7. Taxes: The present arrangement for Israel to collect customs levies and distribute the revenues to the Palestinians will continue. DEBKA Weekly: That is about the only clause which the Palestinians accept. Israel will carry out security checks on goods bound for Palestine that are unloaded at Haifa and Ashdod ports, and levy customs at rates fixed by the Palestinians to be disbursed in the Palestinian state.
8. Settlements: Eighty percent of all Jewish settlers on the West Bank will be confined to the major settlement blocs as defined in 2. The remaining 20% amounting, according to American calculations to 80,000 people, will have to decide on their own whether they prefer to stay where they are under Palestinian rule or move to Israel.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report that Secretary Kerry advised the Israeli Prime Minister bluntly that he should not undertake to force settlers to leave their homes as the Sharon government did when he executed the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Netanyahu replied that it was not feasible for Israel to abandon the settlers to their fate. He therefore proposed absorbing them in the larger settlement blocs remaining under Israeli sovereignty.
Enough palaver. Send me your comments in writing.
9. Timelines: Different timetables are proposed in the US draft for implementing different actions: The Palestinian leader says he is willing to allow Israel three years as a transition period for evacuating settlements.
When he submitted the paper to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders earlier this month, the Secretary of State told them that he saw no point in the two negotiating teams meeting again and again for endless debating on one point or another. He therefore asked them both to henceforth send him their comments in writing.