The European Union is reportedly formulating a detailed peace plan to re-energize dormant Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
According to Israeli diplomatic sources cited by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the goal of the EU plan is to bring about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. The report said the EU intends to set a clear timetable for negotiations between the two sides in 2013.
The plan is reportedly to be presented in March, once a new Israeli government is in place following the January 22 elections. Sources said that the plan will include land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as well as a complete freeze on all Israeli construction in the settlements.
The new plan has been initiated by the British and French foreign ministers, according to the report, with the support of Germany. Additionally, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was said to be considering the option of adopting the plan as the official European stance. The Europeans have apparently already initiated contact with US President Barack Obama and incoming secretary of state John Kerry regarding the plan as well.
Diplomats cited in the report said that it would be difficult for Obama to oppose the plan, which was said to closely mirror his own stated views on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
At a meeting last week in Amman of the Middle East Quartet, which consists of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, the EU reportedly wanted to begin deciding on the parameters of the new peace proposal, but US representatives said that they should wait until after the Obama inauguration on January 21 and the Israeli general elections the following day.
Israeli sources received reports that the EU would like to use the plan as the basis for a regional discussion, which would include the participation of Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states. Such a move would force Israel to join a pan-Middle East conference or risk being seen as an obstacle to peace, the report said.
“The Europeans cannot force an agreement on us, but they certainly have the ability to embarrass us,” a senior Israeli diplomat was quoted as saying. “They are formulating a policy of parameters that will set forth the principles of a future peace agreement, and they will put it on the table.”
The source said the Palestinians were very likely to accept such parameters, while Israel would have difficulties with it. “This will push us into a corner,” the source said.