The Netanyahu government has confirmed it will accept renewed talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, based on the 1949-1967 borders, if the PA scraps its initiative to ask the United Nations for recognition.
Renewed talks also are conditioned on Abbas' recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, a statement he has said he never will make.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told President Barack Obama at a White House meeting last May that returning to the temporary 1949 Armistice Lines, which were in effect until the Six-Day War in 1967, would force “indefensible borders” on Israel.
The president has since emphasized that talks “based on 1967 borders” means that there is room for negotiations on what land should be retained under Israeli sovereignty.
In an seeming concession to President Obama, the Prime Minister now is willing to meet with Abbas on condition that the Palestinian Authority withdraw his plan to go the United Nations.
However, in response to the report, the office of the Prime Minister stated, "There has been no change in government policy. The proposal for renewed talks is conditioned on Israel's being defined as a Jewish state."
The Arab League already has submitted a request to the United Nations for recognizing the Palestinian Authority, but there is deep division within the PA over the possibility that the tactic may leave them empty-handed.
The “peace process” has been dead for two years, if not longer, and is buried underground in the view of most analysts. The attempt to dig it up and resurrect it may be at the behest of United States, which has suffered a sharp decrease in its influence in the Arab world since President Obama’s failure to follow up with results on the ground after his “reaching out to Muslims” speech in Cairo two years ago.
An official United Nations discussion on recognizing the Palestinian Authority as an independent country would relegate the ”peace process” to an obituary in history books. It is not clear if Abbas would prefer that.
"Over the last few weeks there has been an ongoing attempt to restart the peace process to allow for the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians," a government official told the French news agency AFP. "The assumption is that if this process succeeds, the Palestinians will withdraw their proposal for unilateral action at the UN."
He added that President Obama’s statements on the old borders of Israel not being written in stone “is the sort of language that we can live with.”
The United States has indicated, without a total commitment, that it will cast a veto in the United Nations Security Council, whose recommendation for recognizing a new state is needed before the General Assembly can vote on it.
That would leave the PA with having to settle for a non-binding resolution, based on its own political and territorial demands for all of Judea and Samaria as well eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem, commonly referred to East Jerusalem by mainstream media.
The government’s change of attitude towards the expression Obama used, confirmed by an unnamed official in foreign media, effectively forces Abbas to make the move in what has become a long and drawn-out diplomatic chess game.
Abbas has not responded to Netanyahu’s latest proposal to resume talks and formerly has stated that he would be willing to “negotiate” with Israel only after the Jewish state accepts all of its demands, which he said are non-negotiable. The ball is back in his court.