Israeli negotiators are discussing a series of limited withdrawals linked to progress by the Palestinian Authority in maintaining security, a senior Palestinian official said.
The withdrawals are part of a plan for a peace agreement being brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, according to an interview with Yasser Abed Rabbo published in the London-based al-Hayat daily. Abed Rabbo said the concessions will include land in the Jordan Valley.
“There are talks on long-term security arrangements and standards [that would be] subject to so-called improved performance on security by the Palestinians, overseen by Israel,” said Abed Rabbo, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel would determine “in the end, whether the desired level had been reached or not, although the Americans say they will be present and involved in evaluating this performance so that Israel will evacuate some areas, especially from the Jordan Valley.”
Speaking in broader terms, Abed Rabbo said “the plan proposes Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, the establishment of the Palestinian capital in a part of East Jerusalem and solving the refugees problem in accordance with former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s vision.”
But Rabbo said there are considerable gaps between the positions of the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership. Netanyahu ”is refusing to open the file on Jerusalem,” he said, while the Palestinian side is adamant in rejecting Israel’s demand that it be formally recognized as the Jewish state.
Clinton proposed Israel allow a small number of refugees, estimated at up to 100,000 people, to move into Israel.
According to Kerry’s plan, settlement blocs would remain under Israeli control as would border crossings and air space, though American and Jordanian troops would be present as well, Abed Rabbo said. Israel, he added, would retain the right to enter Palestinian territory in hot pursuit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to discuss the progress of talks with Kerry on Friday in Davos, Switzerland, where both leaders are attending the annual World Economic Forum meeting.