Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset Monday that Israel would examine any proposal presented during the negotiations with the Palestinians “but we won’t accept any external dictates and no pressure will help.”
Netanyahu made the remarks in response to comments by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who argued that the Palestinians are toughening their stance in the negotiations with Israel in the hope that when the talks fail, there will be efforts by international entities to impose an arrangement on Israel. “We must make it clear right now that efforts to circumvent the negotiations will fail,” Sa’ar said.
Earlier in the day, Meretz chairman Zahava Gal-On said that from information she had received, the Obama administration was planning to present its own Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in January. A senior Knesset Member told Haaretz that Gal-On said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed Netanyahu of the peace plan during their seven-hour meeting in Rome two weeks ago.
Gal-On said she was basing her information on conversations she has had in recent days with senior Palestinian, American and Arab officials.
During the Likud meeting, Netanyahu sounded pessimistic about the talks with the Palestinians. “I don’t see that there’s been any change in the Palestinian position since 1993,” he said.
MK Tzipi Hotoveli asked Netanyahu if he was seeking an interim agreement with the Palestinians. He denied this and said, “We are talking about exactly the opposite; we aspire to a permanent settlement – a fixed arrangement so that there won’t be any more demands down the road.”
Netanyahu also said that the position Israel presented during the negotiations with the Palestinians is that Jerusalem “will remain united and under Israeli sovereignty.”
Kerry is due to arrive in Israel Tuesday night and will meet Wednesday with Netanyahu and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
'Proposal is merely an option'
A senior diplomatic source told Haaretz that Israel is prepared to examine any proposal that protects the State of Israel's vital security interests."
Another diplomatic source said the "peace plan" Gal-On was referring to was essentially a bridging proposal that Kerry is thinking of submitting to the two sides if there is no progress in the talks by January.
According to this diplomatic source, this American proposal will serve as a basis for direct talks between the sides. The proposal will be aimed at dramatically narrowing the gaps between the sides and leading them to agree on a series of general principles for a permanent arrangement, for example, that the borders will be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps.
"The American bridging proposal is merely an option, and it will be presented only if the sides make no progress by January," the official said.
Israel and the Palestinians resumed negotiations in late July and since then have held 15 meetings. They are coming to the end of the first phase of talks, which included presenting their opening positions on the various core issues. However, there has been no breakthrough at this stage and the gaps between the parties are substantial. Moreover, Israel refuses to present clear positions regarding the borders of the future Palestinian state.
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