As the Palestinian Authority prepares to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the state of Palestine in September, Israeli sources report that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may be considering withdrawing Israeli troops from the West Bank, among other possibilities.The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported Tuesday that internal sources in the Netanyahu administration told their reporters that the Israeli government is considering three possibilities to deal with the Palestinian request for statehood, one of which is withdrawal of troops from some parts of the West Bank, while allowing Israeli settlers to remain.
After a meeting with ambassadors from the European Union in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a reporter who asked about negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, which collapsed last year. He responded that “two questions should be asked. The first, whether it is at all possible to resume negotiations with the Palestinians? The second question is what actions can be undertaken if resumption of negotiations proves impossible?”
According to the report by Ha’aretz, the three options being considered by the Israeli government are the partial withdrawal of troops, an international conference to try to draw the Palestinian Authority back into negotiations, or the use of diplomatic pressure to get the US to prevent the Palestinian Authority from introducing the statehood measure at the United Nations.
If the Palestinian Authority were to go ahead with its plan to demand statehood recognition in September, a number of countries have announced that they will vote for recognition of Palestine, including members of the European Union.
The Ha’aretz report quoted an un-named source in the Netanyahu administration as saying, “Netanyahu is not willing to negotiate on 1967 borders with exchange of territory, and in the end he will be faced with a UN decision on a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, without territorial exchanges.”
This is a reference to the armistice line of 1967, which left Palestine with 22% of its original land, divided into two separate non-contiguous territories known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since that time, Israel has maintained a military occupation over both the West Bank and Gaza, and over 500,000 Israeli civilians have moved into settlement colonies in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (the Gaza settlements were evacuated in 2005).