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Contact Information: Omar Tuffaha
December 4, 2008 - 1:00am

Washington, DC, Dec. 4 – On Dec. 4 the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the Foundation for Middle East Peace and the Middle East Institute hosted a group of officials from the PLO Negotiation Affairs Department (NAD) for a discussion of The Future of the Peace Process: A Palestinian Perspective, at the Middle East Institute’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Maen Areikat, Rami Dajani and Khaled Elgindy discussed the Palestinian positions and negotiating strategy, and answered numerous questions from the attendees.

Areikat, who is Deputy Head and Coordinator General of NAD, told the audience that since the Annapolis meeting there has been “momentum in terms of meetings and intensive, detailed discussions that must be capitalized on.” He called for “full time and intensive engagement from the incoming Obama Administration” beginning “the sooner the better.” He also urged the new Administration to adopt an “even handed approach that would side with neither party at the expense of the other and protect US interests.”

He said that while the bilateral talks were vital, a strong American and international role was needed. It is not enough to bring in the international community after an agreement is reached and “ask them to foot the bill,” he said. He added that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important basis for talks to end the conflict, and that it should be explicated and utilized more, an effort begun by PLO ads about the Initiative placed in Israeli newspapers last week.

Areikat said that 4 principles guide Palestinian negotiations: 1) there will be no partial agreements; 2) no interim agreements, 3) no postponement of final status issues and 4) no agreement until a comprehensive one is reached.

Khaled Elgindy, who is in charge of the settlements file at the NAD, said that the modest progress at the negotiating table has not been matched by developments on the ground. He said that, in violation of Israel’s Road Map obligations, numerous vital issues including closures, settlement expansion, confiscation of land, home demolitions and others have deteriorated over the past year. He pointed out that the Israeli government issued 137 settlement housing tenders in the year prior to the Annapolis meeting, but more than 2,300 in the year following. He added that 16 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the weeks since the Nov. 4 US elections. Elgindy emphasized that most of demolitions and settlement activity were centered in and around Jerusalem.

NAD Legal Advisor Rami Dajani told the audience that with regard to its own Road Map obligations, the PA had been concentrating efforts on the security sector by deploying new security forces in parts of the West Bank and pursuing institutional reform. He pointed out that Israeli incursions and non-cooperation had complicated these efforts.

Full audio for this event is available at the MEI website


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017