Israelis Want Peace Deal to Prevent Future PA Demands

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israelis are demanding assurances that the Palestinian Authority is not going to make additional demands on Israel, once a peace agreement is signed.

A negotiated settlement could happen later this year.

According to a recent survey carried out the Tazpit Research Institute in Jerusalem, 78 percent of Israelis say they would support a peace agreement only if it guarantees that the Palestinians will make no further demands of Israel and the Jewish people.

"People are willing to give," said Aharon Fein, director of the institute, but "after that, they want to make sure this is the end of the conflict."

As with any business deal or insurance claim, Fein said, those signing the contract want to make sure that this will be the end of the case. "Everyone understands that the peace agreement must include this."

"I see how suspicious the [Israeli] public is," PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said. "They're right."

However, he added, the Israelis cannot say on the one hand that they want peace and keep possession of eastern Jerusalem, annex parts of the disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip which contain Jewish settlements, and not allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has reportedly offered the PA at least 92 percent of the territory known as the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan after the kingdom attacked Israel during the 1967 Six-Day war.

Such a move would displace up to60,000 Israelis who live in the area known historically as Judea and Samaria. However, Barak has said he intends to retain the communities in which the remaining 150,000 settlers live, in blocs under Israeli sovereignty.

But PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has said that nothing less than 100 percent, including eastern Jerusalem, will do.

Erekat said if Israel were to give 100 percent of the disputed territories, including eastern Jerusalem, and accept the "right of return" or compensation for 3.6 million Palestinians registered with the United Nations as refugees and their descendants, he believed it would then be acceptable "to have a finality of claims" clause.

Otherwise there's no deal, he added.

As terms of the negotiating process, Israel hoped to gain the fruit of peace in exchange for handing the PA the tangible assets of land, weapons, and money from taxes. For many those hopes of peace were later downgraded to hopes for security.

Israel has accused the PA of fomenting violence as a "negotiating tactic" each time it feels it will not achieve its demands. Israelis are concerned that this pattern might continue even after a permanent agreement is signed.

Three weeks ago Palestinians took to the streets in violent protests marking what they called "the catastrophe" - the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. PA police and members of Arafat's Fatah organization fired live bullets at Israeli soldiers called in to quell the violence.

Analysts differed as to whether Arafat had lost control of the street protests, or if he had intended the violence to go that far.

Israel and the PA are due to conclude a seven-year negotiating process in a final agreement by September 13.

The sides remain far apart on the key issues of Jerusalem, refugees, Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, as well as water rights and final borders.