Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied on Tuesday an official's remarks that Israel had agreed to resume peace talks based on the borders of a Palestinian state being drawn along lines from before a 1967 Middle East war, and agreed land swaps.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said "the report is untrue," calling Reuters with the statement after initially declining to comment on what the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official had said that, were the Palestinians to accept the formula, it would be announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry now in Jordan, who would also describe the future Palestine as existing alongside a "Jewish state" of Israel.
Asked about Reuters' initial report that Israel had agreed to the 1967 formula, a US official cautioned that "there is a great deal of inaccurate information out there right now and our focus is continuing to work through details with both parties".
Speculation has been rife that Kerry, now in the region for his sixth time since March in an effort to revive peace talks that deadlocked in 2010, may be close to a breakthrough.
Israel has previously balked at agreeing to the 1967 borders as a basis for talks with Palestinians. But the latest proposal addresses a longstanding central demand made by Netanyahu that the Palestinians explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was conferring with Palestinian leaders on Thursday to decide whether to accept Kerry's proposals for renewing talks with Israel.
Kerry said on Wednesday after talks with Abbas in neighboring Jordan that gaps between the sides had "very significantly" narrowed. An Arab League committee endorsed Kerry's proposals for resuming peace talks, saying they "provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations".
Kerry is reportedly set to officially announce the resumption of the peace process before leaving Amman on Friday morning, London-based Al-Hayat reported.
Citing sources at the Palestinian embassy in Amman, the report stated that there has been significant process between Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Wednesday evening, Kerry urged Israel to carefully consider the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, in a comment that could presage this initiative becoming part of the terms of reference for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
"Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations - a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel," he said in Amman, where he met officials from Arab League member countries and Abbas.
The plan, put forward by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, offered full recognition of Israel but only if it returned fully to the June 4, 1967 lines, including on the Golan Heights and in east Jerusalem, and to a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees. Softening the plan three months ago, a top Qatari official raised the possibility of land swaps in setting future Israeli-Palestinian borders.
Kerry voiced confidence he was on track toward achieving soon a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, saying gaps had been greatly narrowed.
"We have been able to narrow these gaps very significantly. And so we continue to get closer and I continue to remain hopeful that the sides can soon be able to come and sit at the same table."
His meeting with Abbas in the Jordanian capital was Kerry's second in as many days. It was to be followed, according to a Palestinian official, by a briefing on the US proposals that Abbas will give to other PLO leaders on Thursday ahead of a decision on whether they should resume negotiations with Israel.
The Arab League endorsed Kerry's peace efforts Wednesday, saying in a statement carried on the Jordanian news agency that it hoped this could lead to a two-state solution.
The statement said that the Arab League delegation in Amman affirmed "its support for Kerry's great efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinian and Israeli sides and pointed out that the ideas put forward by Kerry before the committee provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations, especially in new and important political, economic and security issues".
The League delegation "expressed hope that this will lead to a launch of serious negotiations to address all final status issues to end the conflict and achieve a just and comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and Israelis which will bless the region with security, stability and prosperity." The delegation emphasized "its commitment to the Arab peace initiative, stressing that any future agreement must be based on a two-state solution through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lines of the fourth of June 1967 with a limited exchange of territory of the same value and size".
The League officials expressed "appreciation to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their efforts and their commitment to achieve peace" and also "their commitment to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in cooperation with the United States and with all relevant parties." Neither US nor Palestinian officials have given details of the discussions between Abbas and Kerry, who is making his sixth visit to the region since he took office in February.
Israeli officials declined to comment on the matter until after the PLO leaders make their decision.