U.S. Mulls Peres Plan for Palestinian State With Interim Borders

Sources: Netanyahu won't accept plan that requires withdrawal from most of West Bank as first step.

The American administration is said to be studying President Shimon Peres' plan for the establishment in the near future of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, with guarantees and a timetable for a permanent agreement that will include solutions on all core issues.

Peres presented the plan to U.S. envoy George Mitchell as well as senior Palestinian officials and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He also discussed it with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni.

Sources close to Peres' initiative told Haaretz there is some skepticism both in Washington and in the Prime Minister's Bureau as to the probability that both the Palestinians and the Netanyahu government will embrace the plan.

Sources close to Netanyahu said there was no chance he would accept a plan which required withdrawal from most of the West Bank as a first step.

The Obama administration also fears that the split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank would make such an agreement impossible to implement.

Due to Palestinian concerns that temporary borders could become permanent, the United States will seek assurances from Israel that if the borders function successfully, Israel will enter expedited negotiations to solve the problems of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.

The American administration has recently discussed Peres' ideas in preparation for a return to negotiations, assuming a solution to the settlements can be found. The main obstacle is construction in East Jerusalem, which Netanyahu says Israel will not freeze.

The United States may address this obstacle in the near future by announcing that there is a disagreement with Israel on this issue and that it reserves the right to comment on expanded Jewish construction in East Jerusalem as it sees fit.