US Secretary of State John Kerry will offer Israeli and Palestinian negotiators a political trade-off: Israeli recognition of the 1967 lines as a basis for the future Palestinian state, in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, Palestinian sources told the Saudi daily Al-Watan on Sunday.
According to the sources, the mutual recognition will constitute the core of a framework agreement to be signed by the end of January, and negotiated in greater detail during the following months.
“The coming weeks will be difficult for the Palestinian and Israeli sides, since they will need to make tough decisions,” a source told Al-Watan. “On the one hand, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need to live with a text speaking of the 1967 borders, and the Palestinians, for their part, will need to live with a text speaking of Israel’s Jewishness.”
Kerry is to visit the region later this week and is expected to present the sides with the framework plan, which is meant to keep peace talks alive.
Talks have hit a roadblock in recent months, with the sides failing to come to terms over Israel’s demand to leave IDF forces in the Jordan Valley, and Palestinian demands to release Israeli citizens jailed for terrorist acts before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. According to one unconfirmed Israeli report, Kerry has offered to release the American spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard to coax Israel into freeing the jailed Israeli terrorists.
No Israeli Arabs are to be included in the third phase of prisoner release scheduled to take place Monday, although some of those freed are from East Jerusalem and have Israeli residency rights.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Arab foreign ministers have reportedly sent letters to US President Barack Obama and Kerry rejecting Israel’s demand to recognize it as a Jewish state and refusing any Israeli military presence on the future Palestinian state.
“These letters were sent so that the American administration avoids any reference to the issues rejected by Arabs and Palestinians among the ideas Kerry is going to present,” a source told Al-Watan.
Meanwhile, Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk on Sunday warned Abbas against signing a framework agreement, which he dubbed “a second Oslo Accord.”
“If an agreement is reached, Netanyahu will sign it and take it to the Knesset,” the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau wrote on his Facebook wall. “But where will the person signing on the Palestinian side take the agreement? The issues raised concern among all Palestinians: borders, refugees, Jerusalem, the right of return and, of course, security.”
The Palestinian parliament which must ratify any agreement, Abu Marzouk noted, has not convened in years. Hamas has repeatedly rejected peace talks.
“I pray that the disaster of Oslo won’t repeat itself,” he concluded. “Because this time the price will be recognition of the Jewishness of the state, God forbid.”