Israeli proposal detailed in talks with Palestinians

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel has proposed leaving intact dozens of Jewish settlements and military bases in the West Bank as part of a package to establish a Palestinian state in provisional borders, a Palestinian official told the Associated Press on Wednesday, in the first detailed glimpse at recently relaunched peace talks.

The official said the proposal is unacceptable to the Palestinians, underscoring the tough road ahead as the sides try to reach an agreement.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Israel and the Palestinians have pledged to Secretary of State John Kerry not to discuss the content of their talks.

For their future state, the Palestinians seek the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

With Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed to a return to the pre-1967 lines, the idea of a Palestinian state in temporary borders has gained appeal with Israelis.

Such a deal could give the Palestinians independence but leave the thorniest issues, such as the fate of Jerusalem and the status of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, to later negotiations. The Palestinians reject any notion of a provisional agreement, fearing a temporary arrangement that falls short of their dreams will become permanent.

Talks resumed in July after a nearly five-year break stemming largely from Israeli settlement construction. Palestinians object to Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They say these settlements, now home to more than 500,000 Israelis, make it increasingly difficult to partition the land.

After months of US mediation, the Palestinians agreed to resume talks. Israel did not pledge to freeze construction, but US officials have said they expect both sides to avoid provocative moves. Negotiators have been quietly meeting for a month or so.

The Palestinian official said formal talks on borders have not yet started, and negotiations have focused on security. He said the Israelis want to retain control of the West Bank’s border with Jordan, keep early-warning stations on hilltops, and retain military bases near the Jordanian border.

‘‘Israel is using the issue of security to take land,’’ he said. ‘‘From the general discussions we had in the last couple of weeks, the Israelis have shown no intention to dismantle any settlement.’’

He said current proposals indicate Israel will seek to retain control of about 40 percent of the West Bank.

‘‘They said, ‘Let’s discuss a state with provisional borders.’ We said, ‘Let’s agree on a state based on the 1967 borders first, and then we can agree on having this state in phases.’ ’’

In a Jewish new year holiday statement, Netanyahu said he hoped the talks would succeed.

‘‘We seek to advance peace with the Palestinians while maintaining our security and ensuring that the peace will be a real and enduring peace . . . We want a real, genuine and enduring peace and this must be anchored in recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and in our security.”

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on the Voice of Palestine radio, said, ‘‘Until now, there are no signs of progress. The Israeli position has not changed.”

Continue reading for just $1
Only $1 for 6 months of unlimited access to
Get access now
Thanks for reading
Access unlimited articles for only $1.
Get access now

Most read in this section