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Israelis, Palestinians negotiate unofficial security doc - Israel Foreign Ministry Responds to the Geneva Initiative Security Annex revealed

By: Mohit Joshi, published by DPA

Date: 24.07.2009

Tel Aviv - Unofficial Israeli and Palestinian representatives have over the past 18 months negotiated a draft document, outlining in minute detail the security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

The representatives are part of the Geneva Initiative, a virtual peace agreement signed in the Swiss city by leading Israeli and Palestinian moderates in December 2003.
Gadi Baltiansky, the Geneva Initiative's Director-General, confirmed to the German Press Agency DPA that "indeed we completed the security appendix of the Geneva initiative".
He declined to give further details, but Israel's biggest-selling Yediot Ahronot daily reported Friday that under the document, the Palestinian state will be demilitarized and will, among others, not be allowed to have fighter jets, helicopter gunships, tanks, rockets, anti-aircraft or anti-ship weapons, artillery, mortar shells, mines and machine guns larger than 7.62 caliber.
Instead, Palestinians would be allowed to have 400 light armored vehicles as well as light weapons and non-lethal equipment to disperse demonstrations.
Yediot Friday said it was the first to publish the security appendix, to be officially presented to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones this week.
Although its negotiators do not represent the Israeli and Palestinian governments, the Geneva Initiative is held in high regard by the international community, which sees it as a model expressing the consensus among the majority of Israelis and Palestinians that could serve as a basis for a real peace agreement in the future.
The 2003 agreement proposes solutions to the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the most-sensitive ones such as Jerusalem, borders and refugees. But thus far, it had not dealt in detail with security issues. The newly drafted security appendix, Yediot said, was the result of difficult and tedious negotiations.
One solution proposed in it, for example, is that Israelis will be allowed to keep using three main traffic arteries to cross the West Bank, without needing passports.
But they will not be allowed to exit those highways and if they do, they would be arrested by an international force, whose duties and limitations are also discussed in detail.
The negotiating team was led on the Palestinian side by Samih al- Abed, a former minister. But Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Executive Committee and a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was closely involved in all phases of its preparation, Yediot said. Abbas gave his approval at each stage of the discussions, it added.
The Israeli team was led by a top former Israeli security official, Brigadier General in the reserves Shlomo Brom, and included several other leading former military officials.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor welcomed the move, but emphasized it was not binding.
"These people don't hold any official positions so they represent only themselves and they commit only themselves and their organization to this document," he told dpa.
"If anyone wants to make a contribution to peace they are welcome, they are more than welcome," he said. "Not only there is no harm in this, it is certainly a positive initiative to try and think seriously about possible ideas and how to make peace."