Ramallah: An Israeli daily revealed on Tuesday a US plan to jumpstart the stalled peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The Maariv paper claimed that Palestinian prisoners will be released and Israel will freeze construction of Jews-only colonies outside the major colony blocks in return for a Palestinian concession on the 1967 border.
Maariv reported that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has positively responded to demands of the US Secretary of State John Kerry to offer the Palestinians goodwill gestures, freeze colony construction outside the main colony blocks and release Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails before the Oslo Accords were signed.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has, on the other hand, agreed to give up the Palestinian demand that the peace talks with Israel should be based on the 1967 border.
Maariv said that Kerry will publicly present the two leaders, Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, as victorious as their demands have been met in a way which satisfies their nations.
The two leaders will appear to have not withdrawn their conditions and to have got all they asked for. Releasing Palestinian prisoners, halting colony construction outside the colony blocks and enhancing economic conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank are all things which Netanyahu accepts and believes in, said the daily.
On the Palestinian front, said the paper, it will be considered a significant public accomplishment for Abu Mazen if the agreement secures a halt of Israeli colony construction outside the main colony blocks and the release of Palestinian prisoners, especially given the fact that an Arab League delegation had officially announced acceptance of mutual and agreed upon land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Maariv said that talks in the Israeli political arena signal significant progress in Kerry’s approach to secure resumption of the peace talks in the region. The daily quoted senior European diplomats as saying that the coming few days will be extremely important in Kerry’s efforts and that an announcement is expected shortly.”
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday that with the fall of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Netanyahu will approve and release Palestinian prisoners held behind Israeli bars before 1994. The daily added that the Israeli premier will present the Israeli cabinet with an official draft decision halting colony construction outside the main colony blocks in the occupied West Bank.
The daily said that the Israeli Security Service, the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice are currently working on the plan to release the Palestinian prisoners.
From the Palestinian perspective, Saeb Erekat, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Chief Palestinian negotiator, denied the Palestinian concession on the 1967 borderline as the baseline for the peace talks with the Israelis.
“President Abbas sticks to the two-state solution formula based on the 1967 borderline,” he said in a statement.
“It is premature to predict the future political steps of President Abbas when Abu Mazen is preparing to meet Kerry within the coming few days,” he said.
Erekat said that comments and actions of Israeli senior cabinet members showed beyond doubt that the Israeli government and Netanyahu were burying the two states for two peoples formula and confounding Kerry’s diplomatic efforts.