Abbas Softening on Interim Agreement

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Palestinians may, for the first time, be reconsidering their long-standing rejection of the idea of an interim peace agreement with Israel, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is “softening his resistance” to such an approach, which would put off the most contentious final status issues of Yerushalayim and the Palestinian claims to a right of return for refugees.

The report did not, however, indicate any actual progress in the talks. In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Abbas was emphatic:

“We reaffirm that we refuse to enter into a vortex of a new interim agreement that becomes eternalized, or to enter into transitional arrangements that will become a fixed rule rather than an urgent exception. Our objective is to achieve a permanent and comprehensive agreement and a peace treaty between the states of Palestine and Israel that resolves all outstanding issues and answers all questions, which allows us to officially declare an end of conflict and claims,” the Palestinian leader stated.

The change of tone comes just days after chief negotiator Tzipi Livni denied allegations made by Likud deputy ministers Danny Danon and Zev Elkin that she was seeking an interim deal.

Livni told The Jerusalem Post at the time, “My goal is an agreement that will end the conflict and all claims for both sides. I have never used the term ‘interim agreement.’”

Her Likud critics remained suspicious. “I cannot relax, because I don’t know what will happen and what kind of American pressure there will be when the nine-month deadline to reach a deal approaches,” Elkin said.