Does Israel have a Palestinian partner for peace? The answer is yes, judging by written proposals Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has presented to U.S. special envoy George Mitchell. The proposals include borders and Jerusalem, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
Abbas is said to have proposed the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, but with a land swap encompassing 2.3 percent, which would leave larger settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion, Pisgat Ze'ev and Modi'in Ilit in Israel's hands, along with a swathe of land overlooking Ben-Gurion International Airport.
In return, the Palestinians would get land bordering the southern West Bank in addition to land for a passageway between the West Bank and Gaza.
The report also said Abbas presented a softened stance on East Jerusalem, which would become the future capital of the Palestinian state. Abbas reportedly proposed that Israel would retain control over the Old City's Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, while the rest of East Jerusalem would be open to worshippers of all religions.
Palestinian sources told Al-Hayat that Netanyahu has only responded to Mitchell by saying that he wants face-to-face talks with Abbas. The Palestinians have been wary of direct negotiations, fearing that Netanyahu wants to bring them to the table in order to decrease international pressure on Israel with no intention of signing a deal.
The report also quoted Palestinian sources close to Abbas, who say the Palestinian leader expects more effective U.S. participation in peace talks, with some saying Abbas wants the Obama administration to impose a settlement if negotiations fail.