Are the Palestinians easing up on their demands on one of the places Israel has no plans of relinquishing? Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently gave US special envoy George Mitchell a list of written proposals for an agreement with Israel. London-based al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday reported that the list includes an offer for Israel to withdraw from east Jerusalem and the Old City, but maintain rule over the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall.
According to the report, Abbas proposes that a Palestinian state be established on the entire territory of the West Bank, but with a 2.3% land swap. This territory would include Gush Etzion, Givat Ze'ev and Modi'in Illit, as well as a strip of land near Ben Gurion International Airport.
In exchange, the Palestinians demand a similar area of land south of Hebron. The report made no mention of the Palestinian stance on Maale Adumim and Ariel.
As for security issues, Abbas reportedly proposed that the two parties commit to refraining from all acts of violence and establish a three-way committee, under American supervision, to serve as a guarantee.
In addition, Abbas proposed that NATO troops be stationed along the borders and at crossings in order to ensure that the security agreements are being upheld.
According to a Palestinian source, despite Abbas' proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to respond to the offer and insists on meeting with the Palestinian president in order to hold direct talks on all issues.
The source said Netanyahu's position has led Mitchell to return to Abbas empty handed several times and say, "There is nothing new, there is no progress with Netanyahu. He insists on not discussing any issue outside of direct negotiations."
On Thursday Netanyahu reiterated his call to Abbas to meet for negotiations, urging him "not to waste another 15 months."
"I am ready to begin them any time," said Netanyahu. "I am ready to meet today, tomorrow, the next day. In any place." Netanyahu was speaking at the 4th of July reception held by US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham in Herzliya.
Addressing the peace process, the Israeli leader said, "The only way to complete peace negotiations are to begin them. And the only way to begin them are to have the two parties sit across from one another and directly negotiate these complex issues together.