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Netanyahu to present new peace initiative

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present a new diplomatic initiative for peace with the Palestinians. The plan is scheduled to be presented to the US Congress when Netanyahu visits Washington in May. Netanyahu will travel for the annual AIPAC policy conference, which begins on 22 May, and may use this opportunity for a new policy speech towards the peace process.

In conversations with close advisors PM Netanyahu has warned that a bilateral state would be a problematic solution for Israel. Furthermore, there is also a growing understanding that the diplomatic stalemate harms Israel’s international status. The broad support for the Palestinian motion to condemn Israel’s settlements construction in the UN Security Council was yet another sign that the government faced mounting pressure and isolation. Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy Yitzhak Molcho will meet with Quartet members in Jerusalem next week and will ask them to refrain from any extensive initiatives until Netanyahu has delivered his new plan. In related statements, Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 10 that a diplomatic initiative is essential for Israel to maintain its position in the world, to ensure future US support and to stop further delegitimisation.

Analysts speculate that Netanyahu’s plan will offer an interim Palestinian state within temporary borders, allowing for final borders to be agreed upon at a later stage. Another option could be Netanyahu reiterating the goal of two states and announcing an IDF withdrawal from major Palestinian cities in the West Bank and the handover of security control to the Palestinian Authority.