Obama to present US Israel-Palestinian border map within 3 months
debkafile's Washington sources disclose that the three-month settlement construction freeze-for-incentives deal Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, Nov. 12, also included a commitment to hold Israel-Palestinian negotiations on the two states' final borders during that period. Assuming the talks collapse, the Obama administration will take the initiative of delineating those borders and present its own map to both sides before the three months are up.
Our sources disclose that the boundaries the US map will adhere a lot more closely to Palestinian territorial aspirations than to Israel case. While no one is talking about imposing it on Israel, a rejection by the Netanyahu government would place it on a collision course with the Obama White House.
Word about Obama's planned map was not relayed to the Israeli cabinet Sunday, Nov. 14 when Netanyahu reported to the cabinet on his talks with US leaders last week, our Jerusalem sources report.
According to our Washington sources, Obama believes that leaving Israel with no more than 4-4.5 percent of the pre-1967 West Bank area should satisfy its essential security requirements. In terms of population, this would entail the evacuation of dozens of settlements plus two important towns, Efrat in Gush Etzion in the south which has a population of 8,000, and Ariel in Samaria which has 20,000 inhabitants.
For Washington, it is the Palestinians who are laying down the law. After his ultimatum on construction was accepted as an obstacle to talks, the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas now warns Washington that if every last Jewish resident is not cleared from Ariel, there will be no peace accord.
Even when the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held talks with Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 and 2008, Washington backed his demand for at least 5.9 percent of the land – although the figure quoted by Olmert is 6.5 percent. It was understood that in the past 33 years, these locations had developed exponentially each time the Palestinians refused to discuss peace and resorted to violence.
As for the US incentives offered Israel for accepting a second moratorium on settlement construction, Netanyahu neglected to mention the corresponding benefits to be offered the Palestinians.
The Obama administration is willing to let Israel have 20 F-35 stealth warplanes worth $3 billion in addition to the 20 already allocated and promises to veto anti-Israeli motions at the UN and other international bodies.
No one knows what promises are contained in the letter under preparation at the White House for the Palestinian Authority chairman. US sources told debkafile that Israel should not be surprised if commitments it contains are inimical to Israel.