Has Bibi caved in to Obama’s bor­der plan?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER JERUSALEM

IS­RAELI PRIME Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ap­pears to be mov­ing closer to the in­ter­na­tional plan for a twostate so­lu­tion based on 1967 borders.

A letter sent by Mr Ne­tanyahu to the Mid­dle East Quar­tet meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton three weeks ago, parts of which were leaked to the press this week, re­vealed the shift in his pol­icy.

In the letter, Mr Ne­tanyahu agreed to ne­go­ti­ate with the Pales­tini­ans over a two-state so­lu­tion based on the 1967 borders, with ter­ri­tory ex­changes that re­flect the set­tle­ment blocs near the “green line”.

Sources in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice said that the gov­ern­ment is work­ing with the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion to find a way to re-launch peace talks with the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity in or­der to ward off the Pales­tinian plan to gain recog­ni­tion for an in­de­pen­dent state at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly next month.

The for­mula that was pre­sented to the Quar­tet three weeks ago was not ac­cepted due to Rus­sian and EU op­po­si­tion to Mr Ne­tanyahu’s de­mand that the Pales­tini­ans ac­cept Is­rael’s iden­tity as a Jewish state.

Is­rael’s pro­posal to the Quar­tet in­cluded the words “the bor­der should be based on the 1967 borders with agreed ter­ri­to­rial ex­changes” and “the borders will be dif­fer­ent from those of J une 4, 1 967, and will take into ac­count the changes of the last 40 years”.

In ef­fect, this means that the Ne­tanyahu gov­ern­ment ac­cepts the for­mula pro­posed two months ago by Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Barack Obama and has backed down from its pre­vi­ous po­si­tion that the 1967 borders are “in­de­fen­si­ble”.

How­ever, the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice de­nied this week that the pro­posal im­plied a change in Is­raeli pol­icy.

Pales­tinian spokes­men have so far been wary of ac­cept­ing Mr Ne­tanyahu’s pro­posal, say­ing that he should first an­nounce in pub­lic his will­ing­ness to ac­cept the 1967 borders. Se­cret talks in re­cent weeks be­tween se­nior Pales­tini­ans and Pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres have not yielded a break­through. The talks took place with­thep­rime Min­is­ter’s au­tho­ri­sa­tion but a planned meet­ing in Jor­dan last Thurs­day be­tween Mr Peres and Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas was can­celled at the last minute on Mr Ne­tanyahu’s or­ders. The PM de­cided that Pres­i­dent Peres had gone too far in propos­ing con­ces­sions to the Pales­tini­ans.

Sources close to the talks said that the Prime Min­is­ter was wor­ried that he did not have the suf­fi­cient back­ing within his coali­tion f or talks to be based on t he princi-ples be­ing dis­cussed be­tween Mr Peres and Mr Ab­bas.

Sources say Is­rael is seek­ing to­ward­offa Pales­tinian in­de­pen­dence bidattheUN

PHOTO: REUTERS

A rad­i­cal shift? Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu

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