Strike Two for Abbas

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered a compromise to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – a PA state with provisional borders. Abbas rejected the plan.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 18:02

Israel is drawing up a new bilateral plan to create an independent PA state with provisional borders in 90 percent of Judea and Samaria as well as all of Gaza. Israel would retain security control in the Jordan Valley.

The provisional borders would run along the line of the Israeli security fence that is currently under construction, a move that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted was not in the works. Defense Minister Amir Peretz is reviewing the current route of the fence around Jerusalem, according to Haaretz, for financial reasons and to minimize damage to PA Arab property.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry are now working together on putting the final touches on the plan, which Olmert hopes will be more acceptable to the international community and to the PA.

There is one main glitch, however.

Abbas has rejected the idea, according to PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat – for the second time since the creation of the Road Map peace plan. In an interview with the Al-Ayam daily newspaper Erekat said the PA remains firm on its demands for Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. It also demands the right of return for hundreds of thousands of Arabs who left Israel during the war and establishment of the PA state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The previous PA government led by Abbas also rejected the idea of a provisional state, despite U.S. support for the plan. At the time, Abbas insisted instead on immediate talks to determine a final agreement on permanent borders.

Abbas is not a partner for final-status talks, said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at last week’s meeting with senior ministry officials, but “could be a partner for other arrangements on the basis of the road map’s phased process”.

The internationally-backed road map plan calls for a gradual process in which an independent PA state would be created with provisional borders “as a way station to a permanent status settlement”. The PA, for its part, would have to prove its peaceful intentions by ending all violence against Israel and formally recognizing the Jewish state.