Report: Netanyahu has agreed to U.S. terms for a Palestinian state
World Tribune (Link) (December 21, 2009)
Israel and the United States have unofficially reached agreement on the terms of negotiations for a Palestinian state in the entire West Bank, a report said.
The report by the Middle East Forum asserted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. envoy George Mitchell have reached agreement on the terms of reference for final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The report, authored by veteran policy analyst Steven Rosen, said Netanyahu has become committed to a U.S. plan for a Palestinian state throughout the West Bank, Middle East Newsline reported.
�But Netanyahu has accepted a solution based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton�s formulation: �an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements,�� the report, titled �The Mideast Peace Deal You Haven�t Heard About,� said.
Rosen has been regarded as one of the most authoritative U.S. analysts on Israel. For 23 years, Rosen served as foreign policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the chief lobbying group for Israel, and was recently appointed director of the Washington Project at the Middle East Forum. Over the last year, Rosen and another former AIPAC staffer were prosecuted and cleared of charges of espionage for Israel.
�I think Benjamin Netanyahu has gone through a personal evolution a little like my own,� Rosen said. �He continues to be profoundly skeptical that signing a piece of paper can put an end to this conflict. Nevertheless, he has come back to a second term as prime minister with a deeper appreciation of the reality that his relations with the United States, Europe, and moderate Arab neighbors depend on the perception that he can be a partner in the search for diplomatic progress with the Palestinians.�
The report said Netanyahu�s new approach led him to agree to a U.S. demand for a freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank. At the same time, the prime minister has been �making a series of additional concessions to [President] Barack Obama and his Mideast peace envoy, George Mitchell.�
�Their current priority is negotiating �terms of reference� to permit the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,� the report said. �While no one was watching, Netanyahu has in fact agreed to language that Mitchell can accept. With the Israeli agreement in his pocket, Mitchell is now working to bring [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas around, according to sources close to the discussions.�
The report said Abbas has been demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, a two-year deadline for a permanent agreement, repatriation and compensation for Palestinians or their descendants who lost their homes in Israel�s war of independence in 1948 as well as acceptance of the Saudi peace initiative of 2002. The PA chairman has also rejected any Israeli proposal for an interim agreement.
�Mitchell has not announced the agreement with Netanyahu because delicate negotiations with Abbas still lie ahead,� the report said. �Now, a month later, the work on the Israeli side is done. Netanyahu has put the ball in the Palestinian court.�