Israeli Prime Minister: Interim Mideast peace deal is possible

Palestinian officials reject the idea of a short-term accord, saying one "would not fly"

Published December 27, 2010 7:37PM (EST)

Israel's prime minister said Monday that if negotiations don't resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he could seek an interim accord instead of the comprehensive deal the United States wants. Palestinians reject that idea.

In an interview with Israeli Channel 10 TV, Benjamin Netanyahu said that if negotiations bog down on major issues that have stymied peace efforts for years, he could seek a short-term deal.

"It could be we hit a wall -- a wall on the topic of Jerusalem, maybe a wall on the subject of (Palestinian) refugees -- it could be that then the result will be an interim agreement," he said.

On Sunday Israel's hard-line Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman floated the same proposal, but with a different emphasis. He said the peace talks cannot succeed, and Israel should not negotiate a peace treaty with the West Bank regime of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the idea of an interim agreement idea is "a nonstarter and will not fly."

"This is not the time for interim solutions," he said. "The time is for the decisions on the permanent status issues."

The Palestinian Authority was set up on the basis of an interim peace agreement in 1994. Incremental peacemaking broke down over mutual mistrust and accusations by both sides of violations.

U.S.-backed peace talks broke down in September only weeks after starting over the issue of Israel settlement construction. Israel had a partial construction freeze in effect for 10 months but refused to renew it. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate while Israel builds on lands the Palestinians want for a future state.

The Palestinian seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a capital in east Jerusalem. Years of peace talks have failed over key issues such as the status of east Jerusalem -- with its sites holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims -- and the fate of Palestinians displaced during the war surrounding Israel's creation, and their millions of descendants.

By Ben Hubbard

MORE FROM Ben Hubbard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Israel Middle East