US to suggest peace deal in January, Meretz MK says

Zahava Gal-on claims Washington is moving to ‘a phase of active intervention’ in talks between Israel and Palestinians

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Meretz leader MK Zahava Galon, June 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Meretz leader MK Zahava Galon, June 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The US intends to put forward its own solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in January, and Washington has already informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the details, the leader of the Meretz parliamentary faction said Monday.

MK Zahava Gal-on said US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the plan with Netanyahu during their seven-hour long meeting in Rome two weeks ago, the Haaretz daily reported on Monday.

Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday night and to meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday.

“The Obama administration plans to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the beginning of 2014,” said Gal-on. “The Americans want to move from coordinating between the two sides to a phase of active intervention.”

According to Gal-on, whose left-wing Meretz party is in the opposition, the plan is based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed land swaps and will cover all of the core issues.

Gal-on received her insider information on the deal after speaking with American, Palestinian and Arab officials, the report said.

The scheme is spread out over a gradual timetable, calls for the investment of billions of dollars in the Palestinian economy, and will include suggestion for a broader regional peace treaty based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The initiative, first proposed by the Arab League in 2002, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians together with normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world. Central to the initiative was the complete withdrawal of Israel to its pre-1967 lines and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

According to the Maariv daily, Gal-on noted that the increasing skepticism over the talks was advantageous to the Americans who were poised to step in, she said, in the likely event that negotiations fall apart. The US believes that both Netanyahu and Abbas have enough public support to carry through a deal, with its proposed plan intended to be a final peace agreement and not an interim arrangement.

Israel and the Palestinians returned to the negotiating table in July this year and have since held more than a dozen secretive meetings. While there have been no official statements on progress — or even on the specific details of the talks — rumors abound that negotiations have run up against both sides’ intractable positions on certain key issues such as Jerusalem, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, and continued Israeli military presence along the border with Jordan.

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