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By Rhonda Spivak

Liberal Member of Parliament, Irwin Cotler will be meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad when he visits Israel this month.
In an interview in Washington during the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America, Cotler discussed his most recent meetings with Fayyad which took place in Ramallah this past August.

According to Cotler, Fayyad set out his plan to develop Palestinian self governing institutions and then to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state within two years.  Fayyad intends to declare a  Palestinian state unilaterally  in the event a state has not been created by then as a result of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority[PA].

 Cotler says, however, that Fayyad’s plan is problematic in several ways.
“I read over Fayyad’s plan, and I can share his aspirations to ensure proper governing institutions in the PA. But how do you establish the Palestinian Authority as a governing authority in Gaza? The Palestinian Authority isn’t in control of Gaza,” Cotler sid.
When asked whether he anticipated Fayyad declaring a state unilaterally in the West Bank, he answered, “ He might try to do that. Fayyad is hoping that if he can establish a state in the West Bank, -with a proper functioning government, a functioning economy, and increased security- then the people of Gaza will buy into it. He hopes to translate the model to Gaza.”
However, Cotler noted that Fayyad’s unilateral plan violates “certain international norms.” His plan includes unilaterally declaring East Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian state, but Cotler says, “ international norms require the PA to be in effective control of East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza, but Israel is in effective control of  East Jerusalem, and Hamas rules in Gaza.”
Cotler also said that in a way “Fayyad is trying to replicate what Dsvid Ben-Gurion did “in declaring the State of Israel with provisional borders.”
The topic of “incitement to hatred” was also a subject that Cotler said he raised with Fayyad.
“I said I was very concerned about a culture of incitement emanating from the Palestinian Authority [against Israel and Jews]. I told him that not only is this prejudicial and harmful, but it is also harmful to your own people. If you raise people on hatred, it’s a virus in your own culture.”
Cotler says he told Fayyad that he was prepared to help Fayyad set up “ a monitoring committee on incitement” involving a third party such as Canada, but to date nothing has developed in regard to this.
Cotler also said he noticed when visiting Ramallah that the city and the Jewish settlement of Beit-El are almost touching each other.
He is of the view that if there is ever a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which has so far been elusive, the borders may look very similar to those proposed in the Barak-Arafat talks with President Clinton at Camp David in 2000.
“Parts of the [Palestinian] West Bank are virtually hugging Jewish settlements. Even if you take the Clinton parameters [as the results of a future negotiated peace treaty],  it doesn’t work as easily [as when the Clinton plan was formulated]. Israelis and Palestinians are going to be living side by side.”
Cotler said that after his most recent visit to Israel and his meeting with Fayyad he concluded that “that the threshold position of the Israelis is very far apart from the threshold position of the Palestinians. There is a serious disparity between the positions.”
He said “You go back to the point that both sides want to have secure and recognized borders, but one side’s security is seen as the other side’s lack of security.”
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.