Lieberman mulling offer to Palestinians: Drop UN bid and Israel will recognize state within provisional borders
Draft document still under consideration states that no deadline will be set for declaring permanent borders, says Israel is left with few options in light of Palestinian campaign.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is considering a draft document that would offer the Palestinians immediate recognition of statehood within provisional borders as an incentive for dropping their UN bid.
A senior official in the Foreign Ministry said Israel would demand in return that the Palestinian Authority give up its demand to be recognized by the international body as a state along the 1967 borders, and to have its status upgraded to a non-member observer state.
Lieberman held three days of meetings in Vienna over the weekend with some 30 senior Israeli ambassadors and diplomats, after which his diplomatic staff drafted a document detailing possible steps that could be taken to solve the crisis with the Palestinians at the United Nations.
This document, which offers an alternative political process, differs from the policy Israel has taken until now to reject any form of compromise or offer any concession in return for the Palestinians dropping their campaign.
"In the event that the Palestinians give up going to the UN, Israel must reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority for a Palestinian state along provisional borders, during a transition period – until the stabilization of the Arab world, new elections in the Palestinian Authority, and a clarification of the relations between the West Bank and Gaza," the document obtained by Haaretz reads.
A senior official in the Foreign Ministry said that the initiative is aimed at turning the Palestinian campaign at the UN from a unilateral move, into one based on negotiations.
The components of the document now being considered by Lieberman include:
1. Israel would immediately recognize a Palestinian state in provisional borders, based in Area A of the West Bank, where Palestinians would have control over security and civilian matters, and Area B, where Palestinians would have control over civilian issues alone; these areas would comprise some 40-50 percent of the territory in the West Bank.
2. The period of time for this Palestinian state along provisional borders would not be determined in advanced, and no deadline would be set for permanent borders. Negotiations over permanent borders and other core issues would be renewed.
3. The Palestinians would commit to not taking any unilateral steps, particularly with regard to approaching the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
4. Israel would not freeze construction in the large settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion.
The document is considered to be a draft, and Lieberman is still considering its recommendations. Further deliberations will be held on the matter in the Foreign Ministry in the coming days, at the end of which Lieberman will announce whether to bring the recommendations to the forum of nine top cabinet ministers.
The document stresses that if the Palestinians continue with their campaign at the United Nations, Israel will take severe steps of its own.
"A reality in which the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state according to a unilateral process will destroy all Israeli deterrence and completely harm its credibility," says the document, "something which will upturn every future arrangement that would have been considered acceptable by Israel into completely impossible."
"Although this step is not simple, considering the implications that Israel will have to deal with, the only other option in this case would be the toppling of [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas' government," adds the document. "The other option, of containment or a softer response, would be seen as raising a white flag and conceding that the Israeli leadership is unable to deal with the challenge."
Following the conference in Vienna over the weekend, Israeli ambassadors around the world were instructed to deliver a message to the presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the countries in which they serve, stating Israel will consider partial or full cancellation of the Oslo Accords if the United Nations General Assembly adopts the resolution to upgrade the status of Palestine to that of a non-member observer state in the organization.
The vote on the Palestinian proposal will take place on November 29, the anniversary of the vote in the UN approving the Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced on Monday in a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo. The Partition Plan was to replace the British Mandate over Palestine with two national states, one Jewish and one Arab. In 1977, the United Nations recognized November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
If the General Assembly votes on the issue, the Palestinians are expected to win a large majority, with about 150 of the 193 member nations voting for the proposal. As opposed to the decisions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly decisions cannot be vetoed. In practice, the only side who can delay or prevent the vote on the Palestinian status upgrade are Abbas and the Palestinians themselves.
The Israeli effort will focus on enlisting as many countries and world leaders as possible to pressure Abbas and deter him from completing the move in the UN, said a senior official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.
However, the likelihood of Abbas agreeing to halt the process is quite low, especially as the telephone conversation Abbas had with U.S. President Barack Obama did not deter him, said sources in the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Office. "Despite everything, we are continuing to act and try," said the senior Foreign Ministry official.
On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry sent an urgent cable to all Israeli representatives around the world, asking ambassadors to deliver a number of messages to senior officials in those countries as soon as possible. "You are asked immediately at the beginning of the work week to contact the foreign ministry, prime minister's office, national security adviser or president's office and request to do all possible to halt the Palestinian initiative because of its far-reaching consequences," the cable to the ambassadors said.