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Monday, January 25, 2010
Abbas to U.S.: Negotiate with Israel on our behalf - Haaretz - Israel News
"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has proposed that the Obama administration negotiate the final borders of a Palestinian state with Israel, a Palestinian official said Wednesday, as a U.S. envoy headed to the region for another attempt to restart Mideast peace talks. Such a proxy arrangement could provide a way around the current deadlock over reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks, which broke off more than a year ago. Abbas says he won't return to the table without a complete Israeli settlement freeze, something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to do. As an alternative, U.S. officials could replace Palestinian negotiators in border talks with Israel, said an Abbas aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the content of internal meetings. The U.S. negotiators would be given clear parameters, the aide said. Advertisement The state would have to be established in the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War - the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - but the Palestinians would agree to swap up to 3 percent of the territory to accommodate some Israeli settlements, the aide said. Abbas made the proposal in recent meetings with Egyptian officials who passed the idea along to Washington, the aide said. It was not clear how the Americans reacted. Officials at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, which serves the West Bank, had no comment. Abbas has said much ground has been covered in his talks with Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and that the time has come for decisions. In those talks, Abbas offered a swap of up to 1.9 percent of West Bank land for Israeli territory, while Olmert proposed 6.5 percent. Alternately, Abbas could resume negotiations with Netanyahu, provided the Israeli leader agrees to a six-month settlement freeze in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Netanyahu would not have to announce the freeze, the aide said, presumably to avoid a rebellion in his hardline coalition. The Palestinians say settlements on lands they clai