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Netanyahu set to offer first-ever border plan to Palestinians

By Adam Gonn (Xinhua)

16:35, January 16, 2012

JERUSALEM, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to present his first ever written proposal on the borders of a future Palestinian state at a meeting with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas scheduled before March, the Ynet news site reported Sunday.

The announcement, attributed to an unnamed Israeli official, came after a series of meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan's capital Amman.

At the Amman meetings, the first between the two sides in more than 15 months, the Palestinians presented a plan to solve the border issue, and Israeli representative Yitzhak Molcho promised that Israel would study the proposals.

"If (Netanyahu) were to actually put something down, that potentially could be a major change -- depending of course on what exactly he puts down," Dr. Jonathan Rynhold of Israel's Bar-Ilan University told Xinhua on Sunday.

"It all depends on what he says and it all depends on how it's understood," he added.

Netanyahu has in the past been criticized both at home and abroad for not putting forward any cogent idea on the possible borders of an independent Palestinian state, or even offering a starting point for related negotiations.

The Palestinians demand that the 1949 cease-fire lines, which existed prior to the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, become the borders. However, Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the idea, saying that it would leave Israel with indefensible borders.

Galia Golan, a professor of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said that Netanyahu has been put on the spot because of a Jan. 26 deadline set for the two sides by the Middle East Quartet before the Amman talks began, and the Palestinians have already put forward their plans.

"So Netanyahu is being pressed to do something, but I find it very hard to believe that he will actually show the borders that he is interested in -- but it's entirely possible," Golan said.

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