Israel envoys: Recognize interim Palestinian state

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Some Israeli diplomats are urging their government to acknowledge a Palestinian state within provisional borders rather than wait for the Palestinians to seek UN recognition of their sovereignty.

The foreign ministry said on Thursday such views were among a variety being expressed in internal debate ahead of the UN General Assembly in September, when the Palestinians are expected to declare a state in all parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

They are then planning to call on the world body to recognise such a state, meaning that any future negotiations with Israel would be governed by a UN resolution based on the 1967 borders.

Those pushing for Israel to take the initiative believe it would take the wind out of the Palestinian campaign, leaving the question of permanent frontiers to be hammered out in talks between the sides.

The Palestinian leadership has already rejected the idea of a state with provisional borders.

Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP: “It’s no secret that in September, it looks as if there will be a debate in the General Assembly of the UN and there will be Palestinian demands for recognition.

“There are debates over what to do ahead of that,” he said. “There are those who think that perhaps the smart thing is to pre-empt it. That is, to say that we already recognize them.

“It’s part of an internal exchange of views, no more than that,” he added.

The ministry has told its envoys to warn UN members that the Palestinians could face retaliatory steps if they unilaterally declare independence, Palmor said.

He would not say what kind of measures Israel might employ, although Israeli rightwingers have been advocating the annexation of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“It’s part of the process to try and ensure that there won’t be such a vote in the UN, to explain that if there is recognition (of a unilaterally-declared state) that will be the end of the path of dialogue and negotiation,” Palmor said.

“If problems can no longer be solved through dialogue we shall also take unilateral measures … without at the moment threatening anything concrete,” he added.

On March 20, former Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP his side was planning to ask the United Nations to recognize a state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.

No date has been set for that bid, but it is widely expected to take place in September.

Israel is fiercely opposed to such a move, arguing that negotiations are the only way to end the conflict and establish a Palestinian state.

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