This reporter has gained exclusive access to the agreements between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would allow the twenty-year old peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume. The arrangements were brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Here are some details:
The talks will take place at a renovated stockyard that resembles Israeli checkpoints for Palestinians. Israel recommended the locale as having a familiar feel to both Israelis and Palestinians and in order to provide a realistic simulation of the relationship between the parties.
The negotiation table will be round, with a hole in the center. Representatives of the Palestinian Authority will be seated in the center, while Israeli representatives will sit outside and surrounding the Palestinian delegation. The table size will be adjustable, allowing the center to shrink and the outside perimeter to expand indefinitely, at the discretion of the Israeli delegation. The Palestinian delegation will be expected to tighten their belts and/or reduce their numbers as needed in order to accommodate Israeli adjustments, and may not add cushions to their chairs without Israeli permits.
Israel made several astonishing concessions. It agreed to let Kerry assure Abbas that negotiations will be based on the 1967 borders. This was confirmed to me by reliable Israeli sources, who said that this assurance was not really so difficult to accept, because Israel was not the one making it, and adjustment of the borders would leave Palestinians with whatever land Israel does not yet covet, such as the Jordanian desert, which Israel has not yet occupied, anyway.
Israel also agreed to drop its demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and merely call it by its new official name, “The Glorious and Beloved Jewish and Democratic State of Israel.” Israel even agreed to gradually release around 350 Palestinian prisoners, as long as it continues to be able to arrest an unlimited number of new prisoners.