With the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiations entering their fourth
month, Israeli officials said Tuesday that all sides were realistic enough to
understand that if a full deal is not possible, an “all or nothing” situation
needed to be avoided.
The officials were responding to an Israel Radio
report Tuesday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was “softening
his resistance” to an interim agreement.
The Israeli officials said they
could not confirm the report, but on Tuesday the PA denied the claims.
PA official in Ramallah said that Abbas’s position remains unchanged, and that
he continues to stick to Palestinian demands and principles.
said that the radio report was “baseless.”
PLO secretary-general Yasser
Abed Rabbo said that there would be no solution or peace without the
establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its
capital on the pre-1967 lines.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects any
interim agreements,” Abed Rabbo said.
“We also reject the idea of
establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders.”
the Israeli position presented at the peace talks as “the worst in 20
Abed Rabbo accused Israel of seeking to gain time in order to
expand settlements and create new facts on the ground that would destroy the
The sides have agreed to a nine-month deadline to the
current round of talks, meaning that if all goes according to schedule, a deal
should be hammered out by May. Representatives for the two sides reportedly met
in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the 14th time.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki
said the Palestinians remain committed to the nine-month timetable of the peace
talks “in spite of Israeli obstacles.”
Malki reaffirmed the Palestinian
demand for a two-state solution based on the pre- 1967 lines “where Palestine
and Israel would live next to each other in security and peace.”
Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said that the peace talks have thus
far failed to produce any result. He said the PA leadership was considering
declaring the failure of the negotiations.
“All Israel wants from these
talks is to win time in order to pass its aggressive policy against our people
and deceive the international public opinion into thinking that it wants peace,”
he added. “The Palestinians won’t be able to continue with these failed talks.
All indications show that the talks are headed toward failure.”
said that the PA was considering a number of options should the talks fail,
including renewing efforts to seek membership in international agencies in order
to file charges against Israeli leaders for their “crimes” against the
Palestinians and Islamic and Christian holy sites.
Although the talks are
being held in secret, the sparse information that has emerged so far does little
to indicate that the ambitious goal of a deal by April will be realized, and
instead paints a picture of wide gaps between the two sides.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly in the past that his goal is for
a comprehensive, final-status deal, “if the Palestinians are
Barring that, however, he has said that if they are willing for
a partial deal, he would be willing to go for that as well.
thus far categorically rejected an interim agreement, insisting on a
final-status deal that would include arrangements on the contentious issues of
Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return.
In his address to the UN
in September, he emphatically rejecting the idea of an interim agreement: “We
reaffirm that we refuse to enter into a vortex of a new interim agreement that
becomes eternalized, or to enter into transitional arrangements that will become
a fixed rule rather than an urgent exception,” he said at the time.
objective is to achieve a permanent and comprehensive agreement and a peace
treaty between the states of Palestine and Israel that resolves all outstanding
issues and answers all questions, which allows us to officially declare an end
of conflict and claims,” he stated.
According to the Israel Radio report,
after three months of negotiations Abbas has toned down his opposition to an
interim deal and despite his public pronouncements is no longer “rejecting out
of hand” the possibility of such an agreement.
Abbas was not the only one
to reject the idea of an interim agreement.
US Secretary of State John
Kerry, in a speech in September in New York to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
which raises money for the Palestinian Authority, said the US was not seeking an
Kerry said one lesson he learned from previous stabs
at Israel-Palestinian negotiations was that “if you leave things out there,
hanging out there unresolved, people who don’t want things to happen can make
them not happen. And so we have to try to find a way to get a resolution of the
fundamental choices here.”
The Palestinians have historically been
reticent to talk about interim agreements, saying that nothing is more permanent
than intermediate arrangements, and that they would fall into a trap by agreeing
to any such arrangements.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, heading the talks
with the Palestinians, said in a Jerusalem Post
interview earlier this month
that she was not seeking an interim agreement. She dismissed charges by Deputy
Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud) that she was working on an interim deal that would create a Palestinian
state in temporary borders.
Livni told the Post
, “My goal is an agreement
that will end the conflict and all claims for both sides. I have never used the
term ‘interim agreement.’” Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, however,
has in the past championed the idea of long-term interim agreements, saying just
prior to US President Barack Obama’s visit in March that in the current Middle
East environment, a comprehensive Middle East peace was impossible, and that the
negotiations with the Palestinians should be over a “longterm interim
agreement.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.