RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israel has proposed leaving intact dozens of Jewish settlements and military bases in the West Bank as part of a package to establish a Palestinian state in provisional borders, a Palestinian official told the Associated Press on Wednesday, in the first detailed glimpse at recently relaunched peace talks.
The official said the proposal is unacceptable to the Palestinians, underscoring the tough road ahead as the sides try to reach an agreement ending decades of conflict.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Israel and the Palestinians have pledged to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not to discuss the content of their talks with the media – a pledge that has largely held up until now.
For their future state, the Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed to a return to the pre-1967 lines, the idea of a Palestinian state in temporary borders has gained appeal with the Israelis.
Such a deal could give the Palestinians independence while leaving the thorniest issues, such as the fate of Jerusalem and the status of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, to later negotiations. The Palestinians reject any notion of a provisional agreement, fearing that a temporary arrangement that falls short of their dreams will become permanent.
Talks resumed in late July after a nearly five-year break stemming largely from Israeli settlement construction.