Obama administration is promoting a plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that foresees reaching a final agreement in two years and agreeing on permanent borders in nine months, an Israeli daily said Monday. Under the U.S. plan, the Israelis and Palestinians will immediately launch final status talks, the Tel Aviv-based Maariv newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
The report said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was expected to press Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to agree to the plan during a meeting Monday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The report claims the U.S. idea is to have an agreement on borders before the expiry of an Israeli moratorium on new settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. "After reaching an agreement on borders, the sides will move on to discuss the other core issues: Jerusalem and refugees," Maariv said.
To ensure both sides agree to the deal, Washington is preparing letters of guarantee. The Palestinians will get a letter guaranteeing that the two-year deadline will be final, with no delay. "If no agreement is reached, the Palestinians will request US backing for their demand to receive an area equal in size to the territory under Arab rule prior to 1967," Maariv said.
However, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday voiced his objection to setting time limits to talks. Meeting with former British prime minister and Middle East envoy Tony Blair, Lieberman said "it is important to hold an open and honest dialogue with the Palestinians without sowing delusions that are disconnected from reality and, which will only lead to violence and frustration."
"It is not possible to reach an agreement on permanent borders in nine months and a full agreement in two years," Lieberman said according to a statement from his office. "What we need to do is begin direct talks without a time frame," he told Blair.
Meanwhile, after meeting Mubarak, Abbas told reporters that he was open to negotiations with Israel, but talks could only resume when construction at Jewish settlements ends.