Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to establish a Palestinian state with temporary borders on 60% of the West Bank, the London-based Al-Hayat reported Saturday.
A Palestinian source told the paper Abbas rejected the proposal because he saw it as an attempt "to set up a trap and drag him into profound negotiations that will set up the state's borders and turn them into permanent ones".
The report adds that Netanyahu refused to halt construction in east Jerusalem as well as a US request to include additional land in his proposal. He said, according to the sources, that this would require new agreements.
The paper quotes sources as saying that President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak attempted to convince US officials who conveyed the offer that it would be a good way to move the proximity talks forward. But, they said, Abbas could not accept the offer because Netanyahu would not agree to stop building in east Jerusalem.
Peres and Barak even spoke on the phone with the Palestinian President to try to convince him to accept the offer, the sources said. One Palestinian source told the paper that the proposal was Netanyahu's way of evading US pressure to stop construction.
Netanyahu met with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell on Friday at his Jerusalem office. The two are scheduled to meet again on Sunday in an attempt to reach conclusive agreements.
But State Department Philip Crowley said major developments should not be expected following Mitchell's visit. "Are we expecting a breakthrough result of this visit? Probably not," said the spokesman in response to a question from a journalist.