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Herzog met with PA to make pre-1967 concessions, Zionist Union confirms

Opposition leader offers east Jerusalem, West Bank in unsigned agreement with Abbas prior to election

Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition, held extensive talks with high-ranking PA officials prior to last year’s election to propose conceding 100% of the pre-1967 territories and declaring east Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, his spokesman confirmed on Monday.
A paper outlining the agreement, exposed by Channel 10 Sunday night, which was never formally agreed upon, included Herzog’s proposal to relinquish the West Bank and reach a deal to allow the right of return to Arab refugees in Jerusalem based on UN Resolution 194.
Herzog also reportedly agreed to allow 4% of Israeli settlements to remain in place in exchange for comparable pre- 1967 land allowances for Palestinians, to divide municipal responsibilities between east and west Jerusalem, and to have the Temple Mount overseen by an international third party.Moreover, the proposal offered financial compensation to Palestinian refugees, while insisting that Israel retain the Western Wall and maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley with Jordanian and Palestinians soldiers.

Former minister Efraim Sneh negotiated on Herzog’s behalf with an unnamed PA counterpart, using the Arab Peace Initiative proposed in 2002 as a blueprint for the talks, the report stated.

While Zionist Union spokesman Ofer Newman conceded on Monday that the negotiations took place, and confirmed the substance of the report, he claimed that Herzog ceased all negotiations with the PA immediately before running for the premiership. 

“There were talks and a lot of understandings, and they made significant progress, but after the election was declared, Herzog stopped it all and said he would only resume talks after the election when he became prime minister.”

Newman added that Herzog was satisfied by the talks that meaningful peace negotiations were possible, and planned to immediately resume discussions before losing the election in a close race against Benjamin Netanyahu in March of last year.

According to Newman, the negotiations took place through much of 2014, until the election was announced, although he noted that Herzog and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas did not meet in person.

“He met with senior advisers and contacts throughout the year,” Newman said. “All that is written in the paper substance-wise is true, but it was before the election and no agreement was signed,” he emphasized. “Those were the understandings they got to… but all talks stopped around October.”

In a formal statement, Herzog’s office said the opposition leader “made an effort to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terrorism, which I predicted.”

“After the rounds of the almost annual wars and funerals of the past decade, I am no longer prepared to listen to the mantra that says we can defeat every threat with only military force,” the statement continued.

In response to the revelation, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid told a faction meeting that the negotiations were “dangerous” and “wrong,” adding that Jerusalem must not be divided.

“The Left can’t negotiate as long as there’s a government in Jerusalem,” he added.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett echoed Lapid’s sentiments, stating that Herzog cannot negotiate what is not his, and compared the negotiations with the PA as akin to attempting to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

“No Jew or Jewish body has the authority – or even the whole Jewish people – to give up any part of the land,” he said quoting from Ben-Gurion.

“It is a right of the Jewish people... our right to the land exists forever.”

Bennett added that the Labor Party has strayed far too far from former leader David Ben-Gurion’s leadership. “What a distance between Labor then and now,” he said.

“Go back to your roots, Labor. We can be proud of our nation. You don’t have to try to divide our land all the time.”Schermata 2016 06 21 alle 09.23.42

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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