Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has not endorsed, as part of his “long-term interim agreement,” the idea of a creating a Palestinian state with provisional borders, sources close to the foreign minister said Sunday.RELATED:
The sources were responding to a report in Haaretz that Lieberman had drafted a map of a provisional state that would essentially be areas currently under Palestinian Authority civilian control, Areas A and B, plus roads linking the regions.
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According to the report, the provisional state would be on some 45-50 percent of the West Bank, and would not involve uprooting any settlements.
But according to one source close to Lieberman, such a map “is not an official part of any endorsed plan at this point.”
The source said that “nothing has yet been endorsed by the foreign minister.”
At a speech in the Foreign Ministry a month ago, Lieberman reiterated his position that he did not believe it was possible to reach a final-status agreement with the Palestinians at this point, and that the best option now would be a long-term interim agreement. He said that a plan for a long-term agreement existed “on the shelf,” and just needed some polish before being presented.
Lieberman did not spell out what he had in mind, beyond saying that a Foreign Ministry team was working on a Plan B.
One ministry official said that the main components of Plan B had to do with enhanced Israel-PA security and economic cooperation, and that many ideas had been floated.
“While some people are perhaps looking at a map, it was not officially endorsed by Lieberman,” the source said.
The idea of a Palestinian state with provisional borders appears in the second phase of the April 2003 “Performance- Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Lieberman, during his maiden speech to the Foreign Ministry in April 2009, endorsed the road map – not the Annapolis process – as the only document that obligated Israel.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday he was unaware of any so-called Lieberman map, and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s position remained that the goal was to reach a permanent accord with the Palestinians.
However, in a television interview in late December after Lieberman’s comments about a Plan B, Netanyahu did not rule out a long-term interim agreement, but said this would be the result of negotiations that hit a dead end, rather than the starting point for the whole process.
“If we get into the discussions [with the Palestinians], it could be that we will hit a wall – on [the issue] of Jerusalem, on refugees. It is possible then that as a result there will be an interim agreement. I don’t rule out that possibility,” he said.
The PA and Hamas, meanwhile, rejected the plan.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Israel was beginning to feel isolated and embarrassed because of the international community’s support for the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
“The Israelis are therefore trying to throw the ball into the Arab and Palestinian court,” Erekat said. “A state with temporary borders is not our option, and we have rejected it more than once.”
Erekat said that US President Barack Obama had stressed that he was seeking a permanent solution for the Palestinian cause and not a temporary one.
“Israel now realizes that the international community supports an independent Palestinian state,” he added.
“Israel also knows that there are 77 Palestinian embassies and 24 representative offices around the world, including two embassies with full diplomatic status in Moscow and Peking, which are members of the UN Security Council.”
Israel, Erekat continued, knew that a Palestinian state was inevitable and unavoidable.
“Israel’s settlements, closures and siege against our people are attempts to disrupt this development, which will inevitably lead to a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.”
Erekat claimed that Lieberman had asked US Jews to work toward cutting off aid to the Palestinians and the PA.
The Israeli government, through its practices against the Palestinians, was no longer a partner for the them, he added. He urged Hamas to close ranks with the PA “to face the challenges facing all of us.”
Erekat said the PA was determined to seek a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements despite US opposition.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas also voiced strong opposition to the idea of a Palestinian state with temporary borders and accused Israel of trying to “export its internal crises to win time.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the proposal was a “desperate attempt to rid the Zionist entity of its quagmire, especially in light of its growing state of isolation after the war on the Gaza Strip and the failure of the peace process.”
Hamas rejected the idea, which was designed to falsify the rights of the Palestinian people to Jerusalem and the establishment of a sovereign state, Barhoum said.
As for the reaction of the international community, if visiting Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg was any indication, it appeared that it would also be difficult to convince the world of the benefits of the plan.
“I don’t think that any Palestinian leader who would like to survive the street could accept this,” said Schwarzenberg, whose country is considered one of the friendliest toward Israel in the EU.
“I don’t think it is a good idea,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “Maybe if this would have been done in the ’70s, or ’80s, it could be possible.”
But now, he said, “so much milk had been spilled” that it wouldn’t work. He said it was clear to the Palestinians that “as a rule,” interim solutions turn permanent.
Lieberman, meanwhile, left Sunday for Britain and Portugal, where his ideas about a long-term interim agreement were among the subjects expected to be discussed.
Lieberman is scheduled to meet in London with his counterpart William Hague and National Security Adviser Peter Ricketts, as well as with members of Parliament and the leadership of the Jewish community.
In addition to the bilateral issues, he is also expected to discuss
legislation that would amend the UK’s controversial universal
jurisdiction law, thereby removing the threat of arrest warrants being
issued against Israeli leaders and IDF officers on war crimes charges.
From London, Lieberman will travel to Lisbon for talks with Portuguese
Foreign Minister Luis Amado and other top local officials.
Portugal is currently a temporary member of the UN Security Council, and
the discussions are expected to center on Iran and the diplomatic
process. Lieberman, according to his office, is expected to relay the
message that unilateral steps by the Palestinians at the UN will not
bring about an end to the conflict, but only make the situation worse.