Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to resume talks with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 boundary line, which would mean withdrawing from West Bank territory, Israel’s Channel Two television said yesterday.
An Israeli official, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that as part of Israel’s effort to return to peace talks and counter a Palestinian bid for UN recognition, Israel is willing to accept a U.S. proposal on borders. Netanyahu had publicly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to use the 1967 boundaries as a starting point for negotiations when the two leaders met at the White House May 21.
Obama had called for negotiations that would establish a Palestinian state based on the line that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and Jerusalem in the 1967 war with Arab nations. The proposal included provisions for land swaps that would allow Israel to keep some large West Bank settlements in return for offsetting land on the Israel side of the 1967 line.
The proposal does not call for a full Israeli return to the 1967 lines, the Israeli official said.
In remarks to about 11,000 American Israel Public Affairs Committee delegates at the Washington Convention Center May 23, Netanyahu emphasized that “Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 borders.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations stalled in September after Netanyahu refused to renew a 10-month freeze on construction in the West Bank settlements and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he wouldn’t return to talks unless a total moratorium was called. The Palestinians seek an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The U.S. and so-called Middle East Quartet that includes the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia are looking for ways to get the sides talking again before the Palestinians go ahead with their September bid to ask the UN to recognize their statehood in a unilateral move.
Differences that remain between Israelis and Palestinians are too great for negotiations to restart anytime soon, a U.S. official said on July 11 after a meeting of the Quartet failed to agree on a formula for talks with which to present the two sides.
More than 300,000 Jews live in West Bank settlements amid 2.5 million Palestinians on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. The UN has declared the settlements illegal and Palestinians have refused to return to peace talks unless Israel stops construction within the enclaves.
Another 200,000 Israelis live in parts of east Jerusalem that were also captured in 1967. Israel considers those areas part of its sovereign territory and says it will never give them up. Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem the capital of a future independent state.
© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.