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Henry Newman @HenryNewman
, 20 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
So I once heard a brilliant ancedote from a senior official in the Israeli negotiation team

It applies to what has just happened on Gibraltar

People need to be more Israeli here and less like the Palestinians - see below

A few thoughts [thread] 👇
2/ This Gibraltar row is about politics not substance

The Spanish PM Sanchez leads a minority Government facing important elections in Andalusia in early December

His Socialist party only has 84 of 350 seats in Spanish Parliament. He has weaker domestic position that Theresa
3/ If you think @theresa_may's confidence and supply is difficult, @sanchezcastejon's relies on two other parties as well as a handful of other deputies

Sanchez's Government is under particular pressure to call an election but when backwards in the most recent general
4/ So a confected row dominating the news over Spain's perennial national moan - Gibraltar - was perfect

This isn't about substance but politics with Sanchez threatening to "veto" Brexit.

He has no power to stop the UK leaving the EU
5/ Sanchez can't even veto a withdrawal agreement (which is agreed by majority voting) although Barnier would be reluctant to proceed if Spain was really unhappy

This wasnt actually about that though
6/ Spain already secured a veto over the future relationship in context of Gibraltar back in April 2017

But that too was a stunt as agreeeing a future deal will likely need unanimity of all EU27 anyway - Spain already had veto

See this by @steve_hawkes…
7/ So to get tomorrow's summit over the line UK agreed that future relationship won't automatically apply to all territories while simultaneously setting out its plans that it will

The UK letter changes literally nothing but allows 🇪🇸 point to something…
8/ Nonetheless the @guardian has pumped this up to a May "gives way" headline 👇

9/ You can bet anything that if we had actually given way the Gibraltarians wouldn't be sitting quietly.

Yet instead they seem pretty calm 👇…
10/ So the Israelis.

A senior Israeli former negotiator told me an anecdote about the Annapolis peace conference

Both Palestinians and Israelis were gathered at the naval academy waiting for the formalities to kick off

At last minute the Palestinians asked for changes to text
11/ total panic ensued with Condoleeza Rice's team fearing W was about to be totally humiliated by Palestinians pulling the plug on conference

They showed the Israeli team the changes requested. Olmert & Rice paced up & down while the Israeli negotiatiors examined the changes
12/ Finally the Israelis decided

We can live with this. The changes were material but not too fundamental

So someone took a golf buggy across to the Palestinian team (based somewhere else on the campus) and told them it was ok - the Israelis would accept the changes
13/ But rather than relief this led to total panic in Palestinian camp who concluded they must have accidentally conceded something to the Israelis

So after pulling everything apart Palestinians sent officials back to Israeli team to demand that they go back to the original text
14/ That's what eventually happened - letting conference go ahead with a huge amount of drama all round

The anecdote is instructive because it speaks of how people can lose perspective in negotiations & become convinced they're being betrayed even when actually they may not be
15/ The Israelis literally teach it as an instructive case in how you need to get experts to look at the actual text, not rely on headlines, drama or spin from other side.

Of course Sanchez is saying he won. He would say that wouldn't he.
16/ There will be inevitably be attempts by EU to "screw over" Gibraltar at some point. That's for sure. Indeed the fear of that certainly contributed to fact that 96% of Gibraltarians backed Remain.
17/ The EU will also try to get more on fish, level playing field and so on. But for now all those issues are for the future discussions.

As someone once said *nothing has changed*

Yet our Parliamentarians & commentators tend to take at face value any statement by the EU
18/ we need to apply same healthy scrutiny to spin by @WeyandSabine on EU getting its way on fish or level playing field (they haven't - believe me some EU27 diplomats are pretty upset) as we do to when @theresa_may claims we will take back control of our laws (we *almost* will)
19/ At present Gibraltar is already out of the EU customs union so there's a customs border between the UK and Gib and indeed between Spain and Gib.

So it isn't clear that Gib would want to be part of a future trade agreement between the EU and UK anyway.
20/20 This whole confected Gibraltar drama has basically changed nothing

Spain still has veto over future

Spain will try to push for more on Gibraltar and UK will have to resist that

In the meantime everyone needs to remember Palestinians at Annapolis.

Be calm. Look at text
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