Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, outlined for Jewish leaders his country’s list of priorities in framing peace talks with the Palestinians.
Oren, speaking Thursday in a conference call, said Israel was ready to accept President Obama’s outline on May 19 of renewed talks, based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps, as long as it was framed by what he called the “terms of reference”: the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; no return of Palestinian refugees; and a long-term military presence for Israel along the Jordan-West Bank border. Also, that an agreement would end all claims.
He offered the terms after describing the recent intensive shuttle diplomacy aimed at restarting direct talks, with negotiators and U.S. facilitators traveling back and forth in recent weeks between Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During the call organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Oren insisted that the terms were not preconditions; Israel has pushed back Palestinian demands for a settlement freeze as an unwarranted precondition.Pressed by a questioner, however, Oren acknowledged that Israel’s demand that the Palestinian Authority end reconciliation talks with Hamas was a precondition.
Obama has called for an end to all claims, recognition of Israel as Jewish and for a finite Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, and a non-militarized Palestinian state. The issues of refugees and Jerusalem should be deferred until later, the president has said.
The Palestinians have accepted Obama’s proposal in principle.