Erekat: Lieberman's Reported Map of Palestinian State Is a 'Joke'

Speaking with Army Radio, chief PA negotiator urges a return to peace talks, adding that a Palestinian state is coming, and there's nothing Israeli can do about it.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's drafting of the map of a provisional Palestinian State is an "invention and a joke," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Army Radio on Sunday, following a Haaretz report earlier in the day.

erekat - Dan Keinan - Dec 29 2008
Dan Keinan

On Sunday, Haaretz quoted a senior Foreign Ministry official as saying that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had drafted a map of a Palestinian state in provisional borders, which would essentially "freeze the existing situation in the territories, with minor changes."

The purpose of such a map, the official told Haaretz, was to show that Israel is genuinely interested in progress toward peace, and to force the Palestinians to say whether they really want a state.

Commenting on the Haaretz report, Erekat told Army Radio that it was an "invention and a joke," also referring to recent comments by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned of the possibility of another civil uprising if the deadlocked peace talks continued.

"He did not threaten [Israel] with a new intifada, but instead said that he aimed to continue negotiations, and if September arrives and no solution would be in sight, we cannot just continue 'business as usual,'" Erekat said.

The chief PA negotiator stressed the point further, saying that "there was no threat on our part. We want consenting peace talks and not unilateral moves," he said, adding that if Israelis "look to the future they could see the Palestinian state coming, and there's nothing they can do about it."

Speaking with Haaretz, the Foreign Ministry official said Lieberman indicated that 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.