TEL AVIV – The White House is planning intensive Israeli-Palestinian talks that aim to create the borders of a future Palestinian state within two months, according to Palestinian Authority officials speaking to WND.
While such talks seem ambitious, the negotiations are timed around the possible acceptance by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a two-month freeze-extension barring Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
A PA source conceded the talks likely will not lead to an agreement within two months.
“The U.S. proposed intensive negotiations regarding borders, meaning in the coming two months borders will be clear and maybe even closed,” said the source. “It’s very ambitious and is a lot to expect.”
The U.S. called on Netanyahu to extend a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank. As a U.S.-imposed precondition for negotiations, Netanyahu in late 2009 had agreed to a 10-month West Bank construction moratorium that expired at the end of last month.
The Israeli leader repeatedly had claimed he would not extend the freeze beyond the 10-month period, but Israeli media reports quote sources in Netanyahu’s office stating he is considering a two-month extension.
While Netanyahu has not made any public statements regarding a freeze extension, the Israeli government sources told WND the prime minister will not allow any new Jewish construction in the foreseeable future in the West Bank or eastern sections of Jerusalem, excluding what are known as the three main settlement blocs – Gush Etzion, Maale Adumin and Ariel.
PA officials, meanwhile, said the U.S. has been negotiating the borders of a future Palestinian state that would see Israel eventually withdraw from most of the West Bank and some areas of eastern Jerusalem with the exception of the three blocs.
While the PA does not believe it will see an actual Palestinian state within a year, it expects in that time it will take over many more neighborhoods in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem that normally are controlled on the ground by Israel.
The PA said the expectation is based on pledges by the Obama administration. They said the U.S. received a pledge from Netanyahu to transfer more security control of West Bank towns as well as release a number of Palestinian prisoners as gestures to entice Abbas to stay in the talks.