Israel: February 24, 2000


: The PLO Central Council met in Gaza on 2-3 Feb and declared its irrevocable demands for any peace deal:
1. All Palestinian refugees who fled during 1948 and 1967 must have the right to return home or there will be no peace or stability. [The Israelis will never agree to a complete return, since this would flood whatever territory the Palestinians get with huge numbers of people, some of which have only remote claims to such citizenship. Many have established businesses elsewhere in the world and would travel between a future Palestinian state and other countries frequently, creating a security nightmare for the Israelis.]
2. Israel must return to the 4 June 67 borders, and not keep some parts of the "occupied territories" for its security interests. [Israel has already made it clear that it will never give up certain key territory. If it did give up all of the occupied territories, Israel would be impossible to defend against any kind of attack.]
3. All Israeli settlements on occupied territory are illegal and must be removed. [Israel has hinted that despite internal political problems, it will have to give up at least a few settlements to reach a compromise deal.]
4. East Jerusalem must be the capital of an independent Palestinian state and free of Israelis. [The Israelis have declared that they will never give up any part of Jerusalem, but have hinted that they might give up some small peripheral areas which the Palestinians could incorporate into a new capital city.]
5. The future independent Palestinian state must be free and independent without any restrictions on its sovereignty. [The Israelis are insisting on a whole laundry list of restrictions on the Palestinian semi-state, including a forced confederation with Jordan, limits on weapons it can own, limits on the comings and goings of its citizens, and the defacto right of Israeli police to enter and arrest terrorists.]
A pessimist would say that the peace process is doomed. Even an optimist will have to admit that finding peace will require major concessions that neither side is yet politically able to deliver.--Stephen V Cole


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