Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is "softening his resistance" to an interim agreement in ongoing peace talks with Israel, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.

Abbas has thus far rejected such an 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 speech to the UN General Assembly in September, Abbas emphatically rejected 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. Our 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," the Palestinian leader stated.

According to the Israel Radio report, Abbas has toned down his opposition to an interim deal after three months of negotiations and is no longer "rejecting out of hand" the possibility of such an agreement despite his public pronouncements.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is serving as Israel's chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians, denied that she was seeking an interim agreement.

Hardline Likud deputy ministers Danny Danon and Ze’ev Elkin had accused Livni of working on achieving an interim deal with the PA 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.’”

Livni explained that a partial agreement would not work with the negotiating tactics used by both sides in her talks with the PA. She said there could not be give and take if it is not clear that all issues will be resolved in the process.

“These tactics maintain our interests in the negotiating room,” she said.

Neither Elkin nor Danon were convinced by Livni's statements, expressing worry that US pressure could lead Israel to accept an interim agreement.

“I don’t doubt that she wants to achieve a permanent agreement based on 1967 lines like she tried to do in the Annapolis process,” Elkin said. “My concern is that when there inevitably will be difficulties in the attempts to reach a final-status deal, an interim deal will be pursued. That would be a big mistake.”

Citing the Oslo process and the Gaza Strip withdrawal, the deputy foreign minister said history had proven attempts to reach a permanent agreement via interim stages very dangerous.

“I cannot relax, because I don’t know what will happen and what kind of American pressure there will be when the nine-month deadline to reach a deal approaches,” Elkin said.

Danon also expressed his lack of confidence in Israel’s chief negotiator.

“We saw the results of the negotiations during the time of [prime minister Ehud] Olmert and [then-foreign minister] Livni,” Danon said. “We will not let her lead the government to such a dangerous path.”

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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