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Foreign Ministry proposes new initiative /Liebrmann pushes water projects.

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  • Ami Isseroff
    Foreign Ministry proposes new initiative to prevent escalation, start negotiations The Foreign Ministry has given the security cabinet ministers, including
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26, 2001
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      Foreign Ministry proposes new initiative to prevent escalation, start
      negotiations

      The Foreign Ministry has given the security cabinet ministers, including
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a memo outlining its recommendations for how to
      deal with the Intifada and a proposal for a new Israeli initiative to break
      the impasse.

      By Aluf Benn Ha'aretz 27 July 2001

      The Foreign Ministry has given the security cabinet ministers, including
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a memo outlining its recommendations for how to
      deal with the Intifada and a proposal for a new Israeli initiative to break
      the impasse.

      The ministry is seeking to counter the hawkish views of the Israel Defense
      Forces' top brass, including Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz and the chief of IDF
      Military Intelligence, Amos Malka.

      The memo covers a whole range of actions Israel should take, and contradicts
      the army's view, as expressed by Mofaz, that Israel should regard the
      Palestinian Authority as an "enemy."

      The memo says Israel should avoid any massive military action against the PA
      and use "appropriate doses" of military response to Palestinian attacks,
      even if they are large-scale terrorist attacks. Israel must not appear to be
      seeking to capture PA territory or to remove PA chairman Yasser Arafat, and
      must avoid rhetorical provocations. Any attempt to undermine Arafat, says
      the memo, will only enhance his international support and a major military
      operation will confront Israel with the problem of what to do "on the day
      after."

      In diplomatic terms, the ministry recommends continuing the "pinpoint
      activity against terrorist elements" - another way of saying "the
      assassination policy" - but avoid attacking the Palestinian infrastructure
      and institutions - and avoid harming civilians.

      It would be best for Israel to relieve the economic suffering in the
      territories, says the memo, and "strengthen" the population there with
      economic improvements. The main policy goal for Israel, says the memo, is to
      push Arafat into a political corner so that he faces international pressure
      to fight terrorism.

      For that purpose, Israel needs a political program that shows a way out of
      the crisis, and it must undertake direct talks with the Palestinians, to
      avoid internationalization of the conflict. Presenting such a plan would put
      the initiative in Israeli hands.

      The ministry initiative includes proposals for:

      l Gradual negotiations for a final status agreement, with implementation of
      those elements in which agreement is reached, while continuing discussions
      of the disputed issues.

      l Implementation of the existing interim agreements, with insistence on the
      Palestinians abiding by their commitments.

      l A "third redeployment" over a significant area in the West Bank.

      l A Palestinian state should be established in all those areas under
      Palestinian control In the memo, ministry experts analyzed the Palestinian
      strategy, arguing that Arafat is trying to prove to Israel and the
      international community that he is determined to maintain a lengthy
      struggle. He is hoping for a sharp Israeli reaction that would result in
      international intervention and create cracks in the existing wall of
      national unity in Israel.

      The memo's main warning is that an escalation of the hostilities could lead
      to regional deterioration, which would create a crisis in Israel's relations
      with Egypt and Jordan. The way to achieve stability is through international
      pressure on Arafat to stifle the terrorism, but also with renewal of the
      political negotiations on the basis of the Mitchell Report, which, notes the
      memo, has massive international backing. A failure in the political talks
      would hasten escalation, says the memo.

      But the "gray" scenario of the current situation in which there are a few
      attacks, mostly against settlers, a few actions by Arafat against Hamas and
      Islamic Jihad, and attacks by Israeli extremists, won't last long before an
      escalation of the hostilities.

      The ministry move comes at a time when the Americans, working on preparing
      an observer group imposed upon them by the Europeans, appear to have lost
      their monopoly over diplomatic efforts in the region, and don't appear to
      have any new ideas or initiatives. Current diplomatic efforts to end the
      Intifada, or at least stabilize a cease-fire, appear to be close to the back
      burner.

      Cabinet Secretary Gideon Sa'ar goes to Washington next week to meet top
      level officials. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was flying to Peru last night
      to attend a meeting of Latin American leaders hosted by the new Peruvian
      president Alejandro Toledo.

      Lieberman pushes water projects with Palestinians

      By Anat Georgi Ha'aretz 27 July 2001

      National Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Lieberman has approached the
      British ambassador to seek his help in advancing joint Israeli-Palestinian
      water and sewage projects.

      The ambassador expressed interest in the initiative - which would require
      European Union financing - and promised to pass the proposals to his
      government. When he took office Lieberman proposed a joint water
      desalination plant on the Israeli-Gaza border, a sewage treatment plant for
      effluents now going into the Kidron River, and a water supply system for the
      Hebron-Kiryat Arba area.

      Officially the Palestinians have agreed to joint projects but all previous
      initiatives have been frozen by the Intifada hostilities.

      Lieberman said in the past two months he has passed on his proposals for
      joint projects through both the Americans and Europeans. He says joint
      projects are needed because in many cases Arab and Jewish townships share
      the same water resources "and there's no way to differentiate water sources
      between Israelis and Palestinians."

      Among the projects proposed are:

      l A NIS 14 million water supply project for the Kiryat Arba-Hebron area,
      which the proposal says could result in an additional 2.5 million cubic
      meters of water a year for Hebron.

      1 A NIS 32 million Nahal Shilo sewage treatment center to handle sewage from
      some 15 Israeli and Palestinian settlements in the area currently producing
      some 2.5 million cubic meters of sewage a year. Some estimates suggest that
      by 2002 these could be issuing some 8 million cubic meters of sewage.

      l A joint water desalination plant on the Gaza border with Israel. The
      proposed project would be able to produce between 200-400 million cubic
      meters of desalinated sea water. The proposal suggests that due to the
      humanitarian nature of the project the international community would be
      financially and politically interested in helping bring this project to
      fruition.

      l An "Eastern Pipe" to carry up to 180 million cubic meters of treated water
      from the West Bank for agriculture in the territories and the Negev.

      l A joint project for treating sewage water now flowing into the Kidron
      River, which is currently the main sewage drain for East Jerusalem, Ma'ale
      Adumim, Bethlehem, East Talpiot and Bet Sahour. That sewage is currently
      flowing into the Dead Sea without any treatment, and the plan calls for a
      jointly developed treatment plant that would clean that water before it
      reaches the southern lake.
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