JERUSALEM, 27 November 2007 (IRIN) - The following
are some of the core issues to be negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians
after this week's
international conference at Annapolis,
Maryland, USA, according to analysts and politicians on both sides.
The Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, known to Jews as Temple Mount,
is crucially important to the two sides
Currently there are over 4.4 million registered Palestinian refugees, meaning
those who fled Palestine in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their descendants.
This is the most volatile issue, as polls indicate that a majority of
Palestinians want to see no less than a right of return to what is now Israel,
while only a low percentage of Jewish Israelis are willing to allow in any
The Aix group, a working group of Israeli, Palestinian, and international
economists, recently suggested that some US$55-85 billion, along with the right
to return to the new Palestinian state, would be needed to solve the issue so
that both sides can be satisfied, although opinion polls indicate most
Palestinians will not be satisfied by money.
A cultural, religious and historical city, claimed by both sides as a capital.
While the international community might like to see a divide, leaving East
Jerusalem to the Palestinians and West Jerusalem to the Israelis, the issue of
Israeli settlements in the parts occupied in 1967 remains a problem. Also, the
two sides want control over religious sites, most notably the Haram al-Sharif,
or Noble Sanctuary, known to Jews as Temple Mount.
Proposals have included a united city, open city, divided city and a semi open
city, with varying degrees of sovereignty granted to each side.
Also, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem were forced to
take Israeli ID cards, and have been part of the Israeli workforce and social
welfare system. Many would not want to lose benefits and employment.
The Israeli Barrier extends repeatedly into the West Bank, and
Palestinians are worried it may serve as a de-facto border in the
The premise of the two state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
usually based around the 1949 armistice lines, which would leave what was Israel
between 1949 and 1967 in Israeli hands, and place the West Bank and Gaza Strip
under Palestinian sovereignty.
However, Israeli public opinion supports keeping many of the large settlement
blocks in the West Bank under Israeli control, while Palestinians are saying
that at most they would be prepared to conduct small scale land swaps to achieve
that. Furthermore, the Israeli Barrier extends repeatedly into the West Bank,
and Palestinians are worried it may serve as a de-facto border in the long run,
although Israeli officials have said it can be moved.
Israel's mixed experience in evacuating its settlers from Gaza in 2005 may serve
to make future evacuations a complex issue.
Both Israelis and Palestinians want guarantees for their security following any
final settlement. Israel wants Palestinian militants to cease all activity and
for the Palestinian Authority to implement law and order throughout the
territories it will control.
Palestinians want guarantees that
any new state they form would not be under Israeli control - either through an
Israeli say in their border crossings, sea and air spaces, or Israeli incursions
into their territory.
Attacks against Israel and harsh Israeli responses, or pre-emptive actions,
would harm any future peace.
Finally, Gaza remains for now in the hands of the Islamic group Hamas, which is
not part of the negotiations. For a final settlement to work, all Palestinian
territories would need to be connected and under one rule.