Israel orders envoys – Take ‘urgent’ action against Palestinian efforts at UN 20Dec10 December 21, 2010

Palestinians have been pushing for a UN resolution to recognize unilateral declaration of statehood and pressure Israel to freeze settlements; classified cable to diplomats abroad warns such efforts are ‘not effective or constructive’.

by Barak Ravid  -  Haaretz -  20 December 2010

The Foreign Ministry on Monday ordered every Israeli envoy abroad to begin “urgent” diplomatic activity to thwart Palestinian efforts at drafting a United Nations resolution to recognize unilateral declaration of statehood and put international pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction.

Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafael Barak sent a classified cable to Israeli charges d’affairs to open an immediate public relations campaign on the matter at the bureaus of the premiers, foreign ministers and parliament in each respective country.

A foreign ministry source deemed the mission a “comprehensive defense along the home-front.”

The Palestinian Authority is in the midst of three central political actions aimed at the international community, Barak wrote in the cable: advancing a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction; getting international recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders; and improving the diplomatic stance of Palestinian representatives in Europe, East Asia and Latin America.

“The Palestinian proceedings arose from disappointment with American policy and the lack of progress in the political process,” Barak wrote in the cable, which was obtained by Haaretz.

“The issue came to the forefront in Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton’s address to the Saban forum, in which she did not refer to the 1967 borders, in the U.S. House of Representative’s resolution against recognizing unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, in the American announcement that negotiations with Israel had failed, and also in [U.S. envoy George] Mitchell’s visit to the region, which disappointed the Palestinians,” Barak wrote.

He wrote that the Palestinian activity was not yet at the helm of “breaking dishes” on the peace process, but were rather processes that could take place alongside negotiations and a settlement freeze.

The Palestinians were hoping that their proceedings would encourage Barack Obama’s administration to take certain steps in their future, including dealing with the 1967 borders and increasing pressure on Israel.

The Israeli envoys received a “legal position paper” in addition to the cable that they were instructed to pass on to their interlocutors, expressing that only direct negotiations could end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not unilateral action that subvert past accords.

“Advancing a resolution a UN resolution on the issue of settlements won’t bring the sides back to negotiations,” Barak wrote in the cable. “It can only hurt attempts to renew talks. The settlements issue is one of many matters that must be resolved by the sides within the framework of negotiations on a permanent agreement according to the principles of the 1993 accords. It is not effective nor constructive to isolate the issues.”

No past accords with the Palestinians made any mention of a settlement freeze as a precondition for negotiations, Barak wrote in the cable.

“Israel took most significant steps to demonstrate its desire to made progress, including the dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip,” he wrote. “Still, the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 did not lead to improved relations by to an increase in terror and violence from within the territory that Israel had left.”

The envoys were to use as their central legal argument the fact that the Palestinian proceedings violated all accords and international resolutions pertaining to the peace process.

“The agreements between Israel and the Palestinians explicitly rule that the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza will be determined through negotiations,” Barak wrote in the cable. “Every attempt to chance the status quo unilaterally, outside of the framework agreed upon in the process, is a violation of these accords.”

The cable goes on to cite clauses from within the Oslo Accord and the construction agreement of 1995 as evidence for these legal violations.

The Foreign Ministry’s document also refers to the road map for peace, despite the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has avoided mentioning it since entering office.

“The road map set a three-stage program to find a solution to the conflict. It emphasizes the need to resolve the conflict with reciprocal fulfillment of obligations. Only by fulfilling these can a Palestinian state be established through a process of Israeli-Palestinian contacts opened in international council – and not as a unilateral step.

“The Palestinian initiative is an attempt to predetermine the results of a central issue which we have already agreed can only be resolved through direct negotiations,” said the cable.

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