Abbas' Peace Plan: Israeli Withdrawal From West Bank Within Three Years

Plan calls for nine months of talks with Israel, with the first 90 days to focus on borders; Palestinian president to present plan to Kerry, Arab foreign ministers.

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal arrive for a meeting in Doha, August 21, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present Arab Foreign Ministers next week with a plan for determining borders with Israel and ending the occupation of the West Bank within three years. He will also present the plan to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this week.

According to one of Abbas' closest associates, Mahmoud al-Habash, the plan includes renewed negotiatons with Israel for a period of nine months and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within three years. Al-Habash, who spoke to the Jordanian media, said that the proposal forms a basis for talks, where the first three months would be dedicated to determining borders. Negotiations would focus on other core issues after that period.

The Palestinians are standing by their demand for a freeze on settlement construction during the initial three-month period, Al-Habash said. He also said that the Palestinians are repeating their demand a release of an additional back of prisoners held in Israeli jails. The two sides would agree on the details of Israel withdrawing to the borders agreed upon during the talks. 

Abbas will present the plan to Arab foreign ministers in Cairo at an Arab League meeting between September 7 and 9. The Palestinians believe that Abbas will be able to secure their backing, as he has already presented it to the Saudis and Egypt, and both supported it.

This weekend, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majed Faraj will present the plan to Kerry in Washington. The Palestinians know that such a program won't be accepted by Israel, and they are highly doubtful the Americans will accept it. For this reason, Abbas has recently said in interviews that if the Israel or the U.S. say no to the plan, he will go to the International Criminal Court. He has also threatened to hand authority to over the West Bank and dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the most serious threat is over the International Criminal Court and other UN bodies, and not his threat to dismantle the PA. According to these sources, Abbas wants to take the lead on diplomatic efforts again, as he did before the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. He does not want Hamas to set the tone and lead the fight against Israel as it has done in the past two months.

According to the program, after he gets Arab backing, Abbas will go to the UN in mid-September and present the plan to the Security Council. If there is an American veto, or if he doesn't manage to rally a majority behind the plan, he will go to the UN General Assembly.  

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