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.
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.’”
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.
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
“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.
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.”
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Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.