Palestinian: Dr. Samih Al-Abed [SA], Khaled Elgindy [KE], Nizar Farsakh [NF] and
- The Israeli side presented their ideas on the area southwest of Bethlehem (the Etzion bloc) that they want to annex and the criteria they used in drawing the line: number of settlers, security, topography, road connection, land use (agriculture, commercial, industrial, tourism, infrastructure, recreation, schools transportation) and minimizing the number of Palestinians included and the overall effect on Palestinians in the area. They said it was approximately 54 km2 in size and contains some 49,000 settlers. They said they are flexible on the delineation of the bloc and are not taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach to the issue.
- The Israeli side continued to insist on deferring Jerusalem and the eastern border and restated that they reject approaching modifications to the border on a reciprocal basis insisting that they are not giving back something that is ours.
- On contiguity they agreed that it is important for both sides but they argued that tunnels and underpasses should be used to provide contiguity to Palestinians not to Israelis because tunnels present a security risk and the risk to the Israelis is always greater. They also suggested that they would not consider isolated settlements that are deep in the West Bank.
- In terms of the settlement freeze they argued that they are not building “new settlements”, but only in Jerusalem and the blocs, which they believe is sufficient to meet their Roadmap obligations. They followed this with a thinly veiled threat that in the event that current negotiations do not succeed, they will resume settlement construction everywhere else as well.
- In the next meeting, the Israeli side will explain the rest of the “settlement blocs” and the other areas they are interested in. There is concern that the Israeli side is trying to drag out the process and procrastinate.
Meeting Minutes (not verbatim):