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There is beginning to be a buzz that there will some sort of West Bank Palestinian State/Israel peace deal before Olmert finally leaves office in February. One reporter friend said to me with a half-smile, whatever you do, don’t buy any land in East Jerusalem any time soon.

On one hand it makes sense, Olmert seems to be rushing toward a peace deal whether it makes sense or not. At worst he is looking for a legacy beyond being a crook, at best (in his mind) if he makes a deal, Israel will LOVE him and crown him PM once again. For the Palestinians it makes sense. It gives Abbas the something to help him keep power. Since it will not include GAZA, it give Fatah and Hamas the opportunity to maintain their terrorist war against Israel.

Even though it makes sense, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. I don’t care what it says in those interviews that the PA does to look like the “good guys.” It doesn’t matter how many times they say, “Yeah, sure we’re ready! We can have a deal with Israel on Tuesday Morning and a state in time to watch House Tuesday afternoon! Nothing repeat nothing is going to happen regarding negotiations. No comprehensive solution; no state; no annexation; no massive withdrawal. Because in the end Abbas will NOT make an agreement. Even if he wants one (which I doubt) he simply does not have the political juice to sign on the dotted line. Face it, if Yassir Arafat did not have the political power to make a deal, how will a weakened President Abbas have the Power?

As for Olmert? Here’s a guy who has no support even in his own party, who has eight weeks left in office, whose own foreign minister is calling on him to resign every day, a suggestion that he could make a major diplomatic deal is just nonsense.

With that said, read Mideast Times report below about the latest negotiations:
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PLO Agees to Proceed to Statehood Without Waiting for Gaza
CLAUDE SALHANI Published: December 02, 2008

Palestine Liberation Organization officials said Monday they are willing to move forward with the two-state solution as proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush at the Annapolis summit, regardless of the situation in Gaza.

Speaking to the Middle East Times on Monday, Maen Rashid Areikat, deputy head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) negotiations affairs department, said that Gaza would follow once peace between the West Bank and Israel was established.Areikat said that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank town of Ramallah, were prepared to proceed with negotiations to establish statehood without waiting for Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, to come around to accepting the conditions for a peaceful settlement with Israel.However, Areikat said that at the end of the day Hamas could not be sidelined. Eventually, Israel and the United States will have to come around and accept the reality that Hamas is not going to go away anytime soon.The Palestinian negotiator said that Hamas is a force to be reckoned with and could not be ignored. “Hamas is not only a Palestinian problem. Hamas is a regional problem; Hamas is an international problem,” said Areikat. “You cannot simply make them disappear.””We don’t have the military power to remove Hamas by force,” said Areikat, “and we don’t want Israel to do it for us.” The only way Hamas can be weakened, said the PLO negotiator, is by the Palestinian Authority and Israel reaching an agreement.However, nothing is likely to happen in the Middle East without the “immediate, active, full-time, even-handed engagement from the next administration,” said Areikat.”But we need to start off where we have left. We don’t want to go back to square one,” said the PLO official during a breakfast meeting held at the Washington Times.At this point, it is no longer a question if there will be a Palestinian state, but rather what will this new Palestinian state will look like. What matters now to the Palestinians is what kind of state they are going to get. Will it be contiguous? Will it include parts of Jerusalem?Areikat said that besides the four main points at stake in the negotiations: the final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the question of security for all countries in the Middle East, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees, was also the issue regarding the exchange of equal amount of land – square mile for square mile.One of the initial proposals which was turned down by the Palestinians would have seen the Palestinians cede a certain amount of land in the West Bank to Israel in return for land in the Negev. Areikat stated that this was totally out of the question.But now the Palestinians are suggesting a different approach: land swap of equal quality.This is a huge step forward in the negotiations as this issue, which would have left the future Palestinian state with non-contiguous territory, is in part what torpedoed last-ditch efforts by President Bill Clinton to bring about a settlement to the 41-year old occupation of Palestinian territory in the closing days of his presidency.The PLO official said the Palestinians are willing to cede some land in the West Bank to the Israelis in return for an equal amount of land, and of equally agricultural quality. In other words the Palestinians would not accept parts of the Negev Desert in return for rich arable land in the West Bank.When asked where else would Israel find land to swap with the Palestinians if not in the Negev, the Palestinian official replied “If you want to take fertile land, we need the same in return.”The geography – and the demographics – of the region are quite limited and do not leave much room for guesswork. If the land Israel is to exchange does not include the Negev, then there is only one other region where Israel could find equally arable land to exchange; that could only be in the Galilee.Indeed, this would solve two problems for Israel. First, if would settle the question of “fertile land for fertile land.” And second, if the fertile land swapped with the Palestinians included Arab towns and villages in the Galilee, it would solve Israel’s demographic imbalance. By transferring large numbers of Arabs from Israel to the new Palestinian state, Israel would continue to ensure its future as a majority Jewish state, thus distancing the demographic time bomb the Arab inhabitants of Israel represent.

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