The US is busy working on a “compromise proposal” that will allow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “come down from the tree” and re-enter direct talks, senior diplomatic officials said Monday.
Although the officials did not provide details of what was being discussed, one source said it entailed Israel renewing the settlement construction moratorium before the US midterm elections on November 2.
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Anti-Defamation League national director Abe Foxman, who met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday, said there were “very serious efforts on the American and the Israeli side to find the vehicle to go back to direct talks.”
Foxman said his impression was that this vehicle would be found before the US elections.
There have recently been suggestions that in exchange for an extension of the settlement construction moratorium, the US would come out on the record against any Palestinian effort – now being discussed with increasing frequency – to get the US, the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly to back a unilateral Palestinian declaration of a state along the pre-1967 lines.
So far, Washington, which has been very clear in its call to Israel to extend the settlement construction moratorium, has not been equally clear in opposing this type of unilateral Palestinian move, something that has caused concern in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, said in a Knesset meeting with the Likud faction
that the settlement construction issue was an “artificial obstacle.”
the Palestinians say that the construction is insignificant and barely
has an effect on the final-status map. I say it has no impact at all,”
Netanyahu said that he had watched a Channel 1 interview
with Abbas on Sunday night, but that “I must say that I prefer to talk
to him face-to-face.
This interview took place seven minutes from here. A direct conversation can advance the resolution of the conflict.”
told Likud MKs that if the Palestinians wanted to continue the
conflict, “they can find a way. But if they want to solve it, I have
ways of doing it. The security problems are real, so the solutions must
be real, and not just on paper.”
Netanyahu said that several
subjects must be discussed in the negotiations, including the
recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, rockets
being launched from Gaza, the settlements, Jerusalem and water.
matters is not the length of the talks, but whether the Palestinians
want to solve the conflict. The Palestinians must decide if they want to
solve problems. If there is willingness to solve the dispute, it will
be solved, but if not, it won’t be,” he said.
must compromise with the existence of Israel living in peace with its
neighbors. This would be good for us and for them,” he said.
Netanyahu expressed concern that IAF aircraft flying near the Gaza Strip may be exposed to anti-aircraft systems.
we are experiencing difficulty flying near the Gaza Strip since they
[Palestinians] have in their possession antiaircraft missiles,” the
prime minister said. “Imagine that there are no security arrangements
[in an agreement with the PA], and there will be missiles that can take
down a plane en route to Ben-Gurion Airport.”
In a related
diplomatic development, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the assistant
secretary-general for political affairs at the UN, presented a periodic
report to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East and
said “intensive diplomatic efforts led by the United States and
supported by all members of the Quartet are ongoing to create conditions
conducive to the continuation of the [direct] negotiations.”
he said, “These efforts were made even more difficult by the Israeli
government’s approval on October 14 of construction tenders for 238
housing units in the settlements of Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev in east
Jerusalem, contrary to international law and running directly counter to
the Quartet’s efforts.
“Time is of the essence and we need progress in the coming weeks,” he said.
secretary-general continues to believe that, if the door to peace
closes, it will be very hard to reopen. There is no alternative to a
negotiated settlement resulting in the creation of an independent and
viable State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel
in peace and security.”Gil Hoffman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.