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Palestinian negotiator Erekat has said that Hamas can join the peace talks if core issues are resolved.

For Hamas, the core issues include full control over the Temple Mount, unrestricted return of the descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel, the complete dismantling of Jewish settlement blocs, and possibly also autonomy for Arab communities in Israel.

The Palestinian Authority has to embrace those demands in order to win approval from Hamas and from foreign Arabs for its agreement with Israel. Hamas and Fatah thus have a similar negotiating platform.

Meanwhile, Fatah has a trouble selling the peace process to its own population. Polls indicate that just 50-55% of West Bank Palestinians support a two-state solution.

Responding to the terrorist attacks, IDF beefed up checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

But additional personnel at the existing checkpoints solves nothing: the terrorists did not go through those checkpoints. Indeed, how stupid would a terrorist have to be to go through a checkpoint with his guns rather than sneaking in through one of the numerous back roads? The checkpoints only intercept Palestinian hooligans with knives and those would-be terrorists who have been betrayed to Israel by their own Fatah superiors.

The IDF also bombed a tunnel from Gaza into Israel which was allegedly intended to be used for kidnapping. Clearly, the IDF did not just happen to learn about that tunnel only a day after the terrorist attacks. So either there is no tunnel, or the army knew about it for some time but tolerated the threat, waiting for another Shalit to happen.

Since Olmert promised the Palestinians the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem, and most of the settlements (by number, not by population), they have insisted on that position as a starting point for further concessions. Netanyahu has vowed to disregard Olmert’s offer.

According to Palestinian negotiator Erekat, who is usually a reliable source, Netanyahu promised Abbas in Washington to start the talks from where they were left off under Olmert. Though Bibi has lied on every other plank of his electoral platform, it remains unlikely that he would offer the Arabs still more.

So both parties left the Washington talks with their own idea of the agreement: they would start from Olmert’s offer, yes; but Netanyahu wants to scale it down somewhat, and Abbas wants to expand it substantially.

September 2010
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