The final stage negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on the issue of Jerusalem will be postponed by five years, according to a new proposal discussed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and PA negotiator Ahmed Qureia, a Palestinian source told Ynet.
The proposal, submitted by the US, states that a settlement of the refugee problem would also be delayed by a few years.
Israel has yet to comment on the report.
According to Palestinian sources, the two sides are to reach a general agreement on principles by the end of the year that would not include reference to the questions of Jerusalem or the Palestinian refugees.
The agreement would be a temporary one – valid for five years – during which the PA would be granted some municipal sovereignty in the capital and would be allowed to provide various services to the Palestinian residents of the city.
Ynet has learned that this new outline has been presented to Israel and the Palestinians by US mediators, and that the two sides have been discussing it in recent weeks. While both sides are reluctant to accept the proposal, a source involved in the talks said that American pressure may force them to do so.
The Palestinian source further stated that while the delay in resolving the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees mainly serves Israel's interests, it would also enable Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to present the Palestinian public with a treaty, thus helping restore the public's faith in negotiations.
The Palestinians would agree to this move, he added, only if they are given Israeli assurances for significant withdrawals in the West Bank and a just solution for the water issue and the prisoner problem.
If talks indeed move in this direction, the Palestinians are expected to speed up preparations for opening PA and PLO institutions in Jerusalem. However, Palestinian officials would refrain from holding diplomatic meetings in Jerusalem, so not to embarrass Israel, the source concluded.
Criticism from Left and Right
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said in response to the report that "the moment there is any change in the state of Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem, Shas will immediately quit the government."
According to Yishai Israel should do the utmost to resist American pressure and reject the initiative.
MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) urged Shas to leave the coalition or become "accomplices to the handing over of Jerusalem to the Palestinians."
Meanwhile, responses from the Left were also critical of the reported plan. MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said that “the looming accord with the Palestinians, not surprisingly, is merely a façade. It is not of any real consequence, and has more holes than real substance.
“It is only the very beginning, and I don’t believe any headway will be made in respect to the core issues,” said Pines-Paz.
MK Ran Cohen (Meretz-Yahad) added that “this is a grave turn of events if these reports are indeed true.
“There can be no peace accord without an agreement on Jerusalem. Postponing talks on Jerusalem can only lead to disaster and more wars,” said Cohen.
Amnon Meranda and Neta Sela contributed to the report