Former Obama Aide: Palestinians Receptive to Gradual Peace Deal

Former National Security Advisor James L. Jones says it is unclear whether Netanyahu would be willing to give up land given his right-leaning cabinet.

The Palestinian Authority would be receptive to a peace deal which would allow for a gradual Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, U.S. President Barack Obama's former National Security Advisor James L. Jones said on Monday, adding that he felt there was an "enormous" opportunity to get the two sides back to the negotiations table.

James L. Jones AP Oct. 2010

Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Washington D.C. on the stalled Middle East peace process, Jones claimed that both Israel and the PA already knew the general borders of a future Palestinian state: "Most everybody knows what it's going to look like, what end state is, you know, 93, 94, 95 percent [of the West Bank]."

"The question is, how do you get there? Do you get there all at once? Do you get there sequentially? Do you get there gradually?" the former Obama aide asked, adding that he "found that the Palestinians are actually reasonably receptive to a certain time frame by which things will happen rather than to say nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to."

Jones went further on the issue on a possible gradualism, saying if the PA "are willing to agree to this reasonable gradualism in terms of how you get to the final status and that is somehow guaranteed, that it's not something that it's going to take 30 years or 20 years or even maybe even 10 years, whatever that number is -I have a feeling it's no more than 10, but somewhere between 0 and 10."

"I just think their cause would be dramatically enhanced by being a state to start with," Jones said.

Referring to whether or not he believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to give up land as part of a future peace deal, Jones, who resigned from the post of White House security advisor only two months ago, said: "I don't know."

"Obviously, he's got a difficult coalition to deal with. Sometimes we thought we were going to make progress only to find that we couldn't get there. So it's a little bit, to use the 'Peanuts' analogy like Lucy and the football. And somebody has got to hold that football so we can kick a field goal," the former Obama aide added.

Jones also referred to whether or not the Washington needed to be more aggressive to promote a Mideast peace deal, to which he said that that view has "been advocated certainly, by some of the leaders in the Arab world and the Europeans, and it's certainly something that the administration at some point might have to consider."

"Whatever it is, we have to find a solution to this; failure is not an option here."

I think there is enormous opportunity internationally to figure out the way to bring the two parties together. The question is, what's the best way to do it and at what time do you shift to another strategy?"