Top News

Israel's Lieberman charts interim peace deal: report

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has drawn up an interim peace deal for a Palestinian state on up to 50 percent of West Bank land, far below Palestinian demands, the Haaretz daily said on Sunday.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters the idea of an interim deal is “entirely rejected”. Speaking on Israel Army Radio, Erekat referred dismissively to the reported plan as Lieberman’s “new invention”.

Haaretz quoted a senior source in the Foreign Ministry as describing Lieberman’s proposal as a “pre-emptive strike” before any wider international recognition of a Palestinian state throughout the West Bank, captured by Israel in a 1967 war.

With U.S.-brokered peace talks at a standstill, Israel has been alarmed in the past two months by a string of recognitions of a Palestinian state by Latin American states, including Brazil and Argentina.

Lieberman’s plan, which outlines temporary borders of a state on 45 percent to 50 percent of West Bank territory, includes a network of roads that would cut through Israeli-held areas to connect Palestinian towns, the report said.

It does not call for the removal of any Israeli settlements, the newspaper added. Lieberman, who is himself a settler, heads a far-right party in the governing coalition.

Asked about the report, Tzahi Moshe, a spokesman for Lieberman, said many plans were being reviewed at the Foreign Ministry and no finalized proposal had been submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S.- brokered peace talks broke down in December over Netanyahu’s refusal to renew a partial moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements -- enclaves that Palestinians say will deny them a viable state.

Palestinians want to create a state in all of the West Bank, with possible territorial swaps with Israel, and in the Gaza Strip, territory currently controlled by Hamas Islamists.

“I urge Netanyahu and Lieberman to be one day ahead of their time and to be the first to recognize the Palestinian state on ‘67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, to live in peace and security with the State of Israel,” Erekat said in English on Army Radio.

Lieberman said in December there was no way Israel’s right-leaning coalition would be prepared to meet Palestinian demands and that he was finalizing a “Plan B”, a long-term interim accord.

Netanyahu himself said an interim deal could result if no agreement could be reached on major issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Writing by Maayan Lubell; Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Ramallah, editing by Tim Pearce