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Amb. Alan Baker is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, former Legal Adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Israeli Ambassador to Canada. He was a member of the Israeli government’s Levy Committee on the legality of settlement which reported in July 2012.
In this interview Baker argues that the Palestinian precondition demanding a freeze on settlement construction before the resumption of negotiations is a illegitimate, and a violation of previous agreements. According to Baker, settlements can only be addressed in the context of comprehensive negotiations between the parties. In the meantime, he believes, each side has the right to build in the areas of the West Bank under their control. The only way to move forward is for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to drop his precondition of a settlement freeze and return to negotiations with Israel. This could create a context in which he might secure concessions from Israel and therefore strengthen his position with the Palestinian public against Hamas.