Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was putting as much distance as possible between himself and a document which appears to show that the prime minister was willing to negotiate for withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a division of Yerushalayim, according to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Netanyahu dismissed as a mere draft what Israeli media pounced upon on Friday as his “document of concessions.”
The document from August 2013 was reportedly drawn up by Netanyahu’s aide Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s representative Hussein Agha.
According to the news report, Netanyahu was open to a land swap that would make full restitution for all lands taken during the Six Day War, entailing the evacuation of numerous Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, and leaving others under PA control.
A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu never agreed to a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, dividing the capital or recognizing a Palestinian “right of return.”
The talks involving Molcho took place with American involvement and did not “give birth to any agreement,” the statement said, adding that many ideas have been floated over the years that never went anywhere.
Later on Sunday, Netanyahu himself commented on a proposal contained in the document calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state, calling it “simply irrelevant.”
“In the situation created in the Middle East, any territory that will be evacuated will be taken over by radical Islam and terrorist organizations supported by Iran,” Netanyahu said.
“Therefore, there will not be any withdrawals or concessions. The matter is simply irrelevant,” he added.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) denounced the report as false at an emotional press conference on Sunday.
“I have lived in Yehudah and Shomron from the day I made aliyah to Israel,” said the Russian-born MK. “I went through intifadas and other difficult times and saw many of my friends and neighbors hurt.
With noticeable emotion, Edelstein said: “Supporters of communities in Yehudah and Shomron, look me in the eyes. Do you suspect that I would appear at this press conference if I was not 100 percent sure that the document is a lie? It is a lie.”
Edelstein and Likud candidate Benny Begin, who appeared alongside him at the press conference, cited an interview with Dennis Ross, former adviser to U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, in Sunday’s Yisrael Hayom, in which the diplomat said Netanyahu never agreed to pre-‘67 lines, dividing Yerushalayim or the right of return to Palestinians.
According to Ross, there was no August 2013 draft, and the meetings with Molcho and Agha were “a brainstorming session meant to create an American document, which the sides could oppose.