A report aired Friday on Israel’s Channel 10 revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given the green light to negotiators to begin discussing the contours of final borders between Israel and what would become a Palestinian state, among other things:
According to Channel 10, while Netanyahu refused Palestinian demands to explicitly present his position on borders, he did give consent to his government’s chief representatives in the negotiations – Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and attorney Yitzhak Molcho – to present maps on which both sides would then proceed to sketch the contours of the political boundary that would separate Israel and a yet-to-be-created Palestine.
The prime minister also agreed to a freeze of all new construction in the Jewish settlements of Judea and Samaria, though he insisted that Israel would complete all construction that has already been initiated, according to Channel 10.
The Jerusalem Post reported that officials from the Prime Minister’s office denied the latest reports as well, which have the potential of painting the Israeli leader as granting critical concessions to the Palestinians on the eve of a decision by Ramallah to pursue and secure a unity agreement with the Iran-backed Hamas terror group.
The Palestinian move, formally made by the Fatah coalition that controls Palestinian areas of the West Bank, was widely blasted by Jerusalem and Washington for derailing efforts at moving forward with a U.S.-backed peace initiative. Israel had subsequently decided to suspend talks pending confirmation regarding the progress and composition of any future unity government.
Analysis published on Friday by the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre (BICOM) cited a range of media reports indicating that Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders had deliberately framed the agreement in a way that allowed the Palestinians to walk back their decision and quickly resume negotiations:
Some commentators speculate that Israel’s government is leaving the door open to talks until it becomes clear what impact the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement will have on issues such as Israeli security cooperation with the PA. Given several unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation since Hamas violently expelled Fatah from Gaza in 2007, it has been suggested in the media that Wednesday’s agreement may not in fact be implemented.
[Photo: CNN / YouTube]