Israel is planning to use its separation barrier on the West Bank as the border with what is expected to become the future state of Palestine.
According to a report in the Associated Press, Yitzak Molcho, Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinian Authority, informed Palestinian officials that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants East Jerusalem and consolidated Jewish settlements to remain behind the separation barrier.
Israel commenced constructing the barrier ten years ago, amidst a Palestinian insurgence that featured deadly cross-border attacks on Jews as well as suicide bombings.
One Palestinian told AP that Molcho told him that Israel wants to co-exist peacefully with its Palestinian neighbors.
This border proposal, AP noted, would likely fail to receive Palestinian approval since they would have to cede the holy city of Jerusalem to the Israeli side of the border (Jerusalem has key religious sites for Jews, Muslims amd Christians).
Nonetheless, the proposed step would also suggest some softening in the attitude of Netanyahu, who has made his career out of intransigence against Palestinians. Indeed, many of the more nationalist members of Netanyahu’s coalition government would probably regard the handing over of any West Bank territory to Palestinians as a grave betrayal.
No senior official on either the Israeli or Palestinian side has spoken explicitly about the ongoing talks about the proposed redrawing of the map, given their sensitive political nature.
Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who has supported the proposed border, did tell AP: I do not know if (Molcho) said these words exactly, but it would be great [if he did]
Israel captured the West Bank, as well as Gaza and East Jerusalem during the epochal Six-Day War in 1967. Palestinian hard-liners have long demanded all of these territories be returned to them; however, it seems likely that some moderate Palestinians are willing to compromise.
Following 1967, about 500,000 Israelis settled in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including thousands east of the aforementioned barrier.