Erekat: Palestinian Authority Ready for 12-Month Interim Deal
Saeb Erekat, chief of the Palestinian Authority's negotiating team, declared to journalists in Bethlehem Friday that the PA is ready to accept a 12-month interim deal with Israel - as long as demands regarding borders, land swaps, security arrangements, Jerusalem, and "refugees" are met.
"The deal is much more than a declaration of principles," Erekat stated, "but it would need to turn into a [permanent] peace agreement after a short period of 6-12 months."
The announcement follows escalating pressure from international bodies on both PA and Israel to reach an interim deal. The European Union promised "unprecedented" aid packages to both PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the event that the two would forge a two-state solution.
The package would allegedly include "political, economic and security support" to both the PA and Israel, which would also grant them the highest level of EU non-member state status.
Reports surfaced in November that the US would also force its own solution on the two countries, in the event that an interim deal was not reached by January 2014. The plan allegedly includes Israel's full withdrawal to 1949 Armistice Lines.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed skepticism about a possible deal at a Likud convention Wednesday.
"I do not know if a peace agreement will come or not, but we will bring it to the Knesset and the people will decide whether the agreement is good," Netanyahu stated, warning that "We will not tolerate underhanded opportunism."
"Without a security arrangement, an agreement would not hold for longer than two hours," he reasoned. "[There will be] no missiles, no suicide bombers [. . .] if we have to, we will do something again [like] Operation Pillar of Defense. Our enemies will understand very quickly what intimidation means."
An arrangement meeting the PA's demands would be highly unlikely, as Israeli officials continue to maintain the right to keep building on its own land in Judea and Samaria.
"They keep on telling us that the reason that we don't have peace is due to our construction efforts, and due to our presence in Judea and Samaria. This is wrong," Netanyahu stated. "The real reason is ongoing opposition to a Jewish state under any borders," he continued. "We have the right to have a state like any other nation - or perhaps even more than any other nation."
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority "Prime Minister" Rami Hamdallah slammed Israel's eliminating two Palestinian Arab terrorists in Jenin and Kalkaliya. Hamdallah accused Israel of shirking its responsibilities in peace talks by launching "ongoing attacks" against Palestinian Authority citizens.