Netanyahu ready to meet most Arab demands for peace

Thursday, June 27, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

A senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party said on Wednesday that the Israeli leader is willing to meet most of the Arab land demands for the sake of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Speaking to left-leaning Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the source, who is a cabinet minister in Netanyahu's government, said the prime minister will offer to withdraw from 90 percent of Judea and Samaria and uproot many Jewish settlements.

In return, Netanyahu wants a future Palestinian state to be demilitarized, and for Israeli forces to remain deployed along the strategic Jordan Valley for the time being.

Netanyahu is expected to make his proposal as soon as visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry can set up a trilateral meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has for the past four years been avoiding direct negotiations with Netanyahu.

Many Israelis who read about how much Netanyahu was willing to compromise were worried of a repeat of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000. That offer, and Arafat's immediate refusal, directly preceded the outbreak of the bloody "Oslo War," or "Al Aqsa Intifada."

While Netanyahu certainly isn't hoping for a return to that kind of violence, he could be playing the same game as Barak - expose Palestinian intransigence as the main obstacle to peace by making an offer the rest of the world will view as reasonable.

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted on Wednesday that Abbas is not actually interested in hammering out a deal with Netanyahu, and prefers to make all of his gains unilaterally at the United Nations. As such, the Palestinian leader is expected to reject just about anything offered him by Netanyahu.

Indeed, the writing is already on the wall. Abbas has for years insisted he would not conclude a peace deal with Israel that did not include Palestinian control over the eastern half of Jerusalem, a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, and the "right" to flood Israel with millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees."

While Israel might truly be willing to part with the bulk of its biblical heartland in Judea and Samaria, Abbas' demands are all seen as suicidal red lines that no Israeli prime minister can cross.

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