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Secret negotiations, vivid similes

by michael February 13 2008
Municipal news

In a news story that, on a smaller scale, reminds Jerusalemite of those secret Israeli-Syrian peace talks of last year (whatever happened to those?), a Palestinian Authority official in Jerusalem has revealed that secret negotiations are currently going on between the Israeli government and the PA over the division and final status of Jerusalem.

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Jerusalem affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, confirmed Tuesday that Jerusalem is one of the issues currently being discussed by Israeli and PA negotiators.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Abdel Qader said Jerusalem "is not only on the table, it's also under the table."

Asked to explain the second part of his remark, he said: "This means that the negotiations with the Israelis are taking place both openly and secretly."

The Palestinians made it clear during the negotiations they were insisting on a full Israeli withdrawal from the eastern part of Jerusalem that was captured by Israel in 1967.

Revealing secret negotiations is always, to put it lightly, a loaded act in the Middle Eastern political sphere, since it invariably enrages hardliners on both sides of an issue and, as we saw with Syria, often has the effect of scuttling the whole affair - or at least putting heads of government in an extremely awkward position. So what's Qader's angle here? And shouldn't negotiations over the final status of Jerusalem, negotiations which will profoundly affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of city residents, be held in the public sphere, so people invested in the issue can reasonably take part?

Meanwhile, Mr. Qader went on to vividly sum up the weakness of the Olmert government:

Abdel Qader complained that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were paying the price for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition problems. "Olmert's position is very weak and we have sensed this in the current negotiations," he said. "He's like a woman who is dying to get married, but is afraid of becoming pregnant."

Jerusalemite doesn't see why he'd be worried. Everyone knows Olmert is impotent.

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