lieberman - Emil Salman - December 14 2010
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo by Emil Salman
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has drafted a map of a Palestinian state in provisional borders. The map would essentially "freeze the existing situation in the territories, with minor changes," a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

The proposal is meant to show that Israel is genuinely interested in progress toward peace, and to force the Palestinians to say whether they really want a state.

According to the official, Lieberman says Israel must take the diplomatic initiative by proposing a Palestinian state in provisional borders. This would preempt international recognition of such a state in the 1967 borders, reduce international pressure on Israel and transfer at least part of the state to the Palestinians.

"After a Palestinian state has been established in provisional borders, it would be possible to resume diplomatic negotiations and maybe reach agreements on transferring additional territory to the Palestinian state," the official said.

Lieberman has briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the project but has not yet shown him the map. Lieberman, the source said, believes that the more time passes, the more people will come around to the idea that the goal for now should be an interim agreement with the Palestinians.

The idea is already gaining support in the forum of seven key ministers. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, for instance, shares Lieberman's view that Israel should consider establishing a Palestinian state with provisional borders, simultaneously bolstering the Palestinian Authority and reducing Israeli control over Palestinians' lives.

And Lieberman was particularly pleased with Netanyahu's statement on Channel 10 television a few weeks ago that an interim agreement is one possible outcome of the diplomatic process.

The Foreign Ministry source said Lieberman's map also includes a network of new roads linking the areas under Palestinian control. The map "provides territorial contiguity that would enable the Palestinian state in provisional borders to be viable," he said.

Lieberman's plan, which corresponds to the second stage of the 2003 U.S.-sponsored road map peace plan, would not involve evacuating settlements or transferring significant additional territory to the PA. Thus the new state's provisional borders would comprise mainly the parts of the West Bank known as Areas A and B. The PA currently has full control over Area A, and civilian but not security control in Area B.

Together, these areas comprise some 42 percent of the West Bank. But a bit of additional territory might be thrown in to bring the new state up to 45 or 50 percent of the West Bank.

By comparison, opposition MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has proposed a Palestinian state in provisional borders comprising at least 60 percent of the West Bank, accompanied by an Israeli pledge that the final borders would encompass at least 92 percent of the West Bank.

At the same time, Lieberman has also ordered his ministry to draft plans to pressure the PA to stop waging diplomatic campaigns against Israel in the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and other international forums.

According to the Foreign Ministry official, the ministry is finalizing a report that will list all the steps Israel has taken to further economic and security cooperation with the Palestinians, contrasted with all the steps the PA has taken against Israel.

The report is due to be completed in another week, after which Lieberman plans to send it to the U.S. State Department and both houses of Congress. He will then ask the United States to threaten to halt financial assistance to the PA if it does not end its anti-Israel campaign.