Last week the chairman of the Palestinian negotiation team with Israel, Ahmed Qureia Abu Ala voiced unequivocal support for the candidacy of his negotiation partner, Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, for chairman of Kadima.

His revelation came at an intimate meeting in his home on Monday in Jerusalem, with a number of Arab journalists from Israel in which Mr. Abu Ala presented to them a picture of the negotiations between the parties.

The journalists wanted to hear from the senior Palestinian official his opinion about the four candidates for Kadima chairman, and which one he personally preferred.

Mr. Abu Ala agreed to share his views with those present but stipulated, “this must not appear in the Israeli media, so as not to harm Palestinian interests,” as he put it.

One of the participants at the meeting said that Mr. Abu Ala said that he preferred that Tzipi Livni win the primary for a number of reasons, which he detailed. The first is that Ms. Livni is very involved in the negotiations and, if she wins, the negotiations would not affect their progress. He added that, despite the difficult disagreements between them, Ms. Livni’s positions on the peace process were relatively close to the Palestinian positions.

Another reason Mr. Abu Ala mentioned was connected to his aversion for the other candidates, particularly the ‘two security experts,’ Mr. Shaul Mofaz and Mr. Avi Dichter, as his past experience, and that of the Palestinians, with them was not good.

At the meeting, Mr. Abu Ala said he was pessimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement between the sides in the coming months. He said that the political situation in Israel, in the U.S. and the PA was not conducive to reaching an agreement, because the three leaders in power today – President Bush, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) – were about to end their terms.

PA sources are pleased with the “new ideas” that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented during her last visit to region last week.

A senior Palestinian official told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat that Ms. Rice presented “a position closer to the Palestinian demands in relation to stopping settlement activity, to establishing an independent Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 lines that includes Jerusalem, and a territorial swap of identical quality on a one to one basis between the sides.”

It should be noted that at Ms. Rice’s meeting with Mr. Abbas in Ramallah two weeks ago, Ms. Rice supported Mr. Abbas on most of the core issues. In an interview that Mr. Abbas gave to the Al-Arabiya network last week, he said that Ms. Rice had proposed the establishment of a secure land crossing (instead of a tunnel or bridge), to divide Jerusalem on the basis of the 1967 lines instead of on a demographic basis, and giving the Palestinians control of the water sources.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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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.