Jerusalem – New difficulties have cropped up in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in preparation for the Annapolis conference. The Palestinians have made new, tough demands. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), in a press conference that he held after his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had gotten into an unpleasant situation over the issue of the timetable. However, he denied that there was a crisis in the talks.

Mr. Abbas said he is asking the United States and Israel for a guarantee of a Palestinian state and a final peace agreement within six months. He enumerated the issues which he wants to see in the document which will be signed at the Annapolis conference, and repeated the Palestinian demand that the conference should deal with the core issues. “The document has to be a prologue which includes all the issues affecting the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

He promised that Annapolis would not be the last conference. “We are certain that the important issues will be aired at the conference. What is most important is that a timetable be determined for the coming conferences.” He stressed that six months is the most desirable time frame from the Palestinian point of view. “We are making gigantic efforts to reach agreements with the Israelis. Our aim is a final solution, and we will not accept a plan in stages,” he added.

The chairman of the Palestinian negotiating team, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), was more outspoken and called for a halt to the negotiations with Israel, if the latter did not agree to sign a timetable for establishment of a Palestinian state.

At the press conference which he held in Ramallah, Mr. Abu Ala claimed that he had received messages from the Israeli prime minister, saying that such a timetable would not be presented at the Annapolis conference. “The Palestinians have started talks without a timetable, and they got nowhere, for example what happened at Oslo,” he said. Nevertheless, he defined Annapolis as a “rare opportunity” for the Palestinians.

Not to be outdone, Hamas has declared that they would convene an alternative conference in Damascus, due to take place next week, which will be attended by representatives of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.