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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
International

Israel for new talks to head off Palestinian UN bid

Israel is willing to begin new Middle East peace talks using the 1967 lines as a basis for negotiations if the Palestinians drop their UN membership bid, an Israeli government official confirmed yesterday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel has been working with Washington and members of the international peace-making Quartet to draw up a new framework that could relaunch stalled talks.

The package of principles aims to draw Palestinians back to the negotiating table and head off their plan to seek United Nations membership for a Palestinian state on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

But the Palestinians were unimpressed, with negotiator Saeb Erakat urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead to "announce his position in front of the world and the international media."

Netanyahu should announce "that the 1967 borders are the basis for negotiations and a halt to all building of settlements on Palestinian land, including east Jerusalem," he told AFP, dismissing the reports as a PR exercise.

The framework negotiations were first reported by Israeli media on Monday night.

"Over the last few weeks there has been an ongoing attempt to restart the peace process to allow for the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians," the Israeli government official told AFP.

"The assumption is that if this process succeeds, the Palestinians will withdraw their proposal for unilateral action at the UN."

The framework being discussed is based on a speech made by US President Barack Obama to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC earlier this year.

In that address, Obama called for the negotiations that would create borders for "Israel and Palestine... based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

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