Netanyahu downplays ‘concession document’ trumpeted by Israeli media outlet

Report based on document drawn up by PM's aide and Abbas.

March 8, 2015 05:54
1 minute read.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as a mere draft a document that Yediot Aharonot trumpeted on its front page Friday as his “document of concessions.”

The report was based on a document drawn up by Netanyahu’s aide Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s confidant Hussein Agha.

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According to the news report, the document from August 2013 shows Netanyahu was willing to offer “what appeared to be drastic concessions” to the Palestinians on a number of core issues, “including land swaps, a potential deal regarding Jerusalem and even a limited right of return for Palestinians.”

The document said Netanyahu was open to a land swap that would constitute full restitution for lands taken during the Six Day War, the uprooting of numerous settlements, and leaving other settlers in the West Bank under PA control. A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu never agreed to a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, dividing Jerusalem or recognizing a Palestinian “right of return.”

The talks involving Molcho took place with American involvement and did not “give birth to any agreement,” the statement said.

Rather, they dealt with an effort by the Americans to jump-start negotiations by presenting a document to which each side could then register their objections.

The statement said that many drafts have been floated over the years that never led to any agreement, and that even if an American proposal would have been presented, Netanyahu made clear he would have expressed opposition to clauses that ran contrary to his positions.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, speaking in Beersheba on Saturday, said that since the document was not accepted by either Israel or the Palestinians, “it is not relevant.”

What is relevant, he said, is the question of what the paper’s intention was in publishing the document now, creating the impression that Netanyahu “gave something up.” Walla’s Amir Tibon already reported about the document in an article in November in The New Republic.

Friday’s article was written by Yediot columnist Nahum Barnea, who said in a radio interview last month Netanyahu needed to be “hospitalized” for writing a Facebook post saying the paper was essentially out to get him.

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