Bibi to accept Palestinian state?


In the Washington Times, Eli Lake reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will "accept the notion of a Palestinian state":

The policy reversal, which is expected to go public this weekend, could help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and allow the Israeli leader to steer a course between Mr. Obama’s view and those of his own hawkish base.

The Israeli and American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Times on Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu, in a major speech Sunday, will, however, set Israeli parameters for recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.

The officials said Mr. Netanyahu will emphasize Palestinian obligations under the "road map" to peace in the Middle East — a three-phase process for negotiations initiated by the George W. Bush administration, which so far has not been followed.

Any discussion of a two-state solution and negotiations on so-called final-status issues — including the borders of a future Palestinian state would represent a major modification of Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign platform in which he promised a "bottom up" approach to negotiations focusing on economic issues.

The conditions he is expected to put forward include:

• Any Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without an air force, full-fledged army or heavy weapons.

• Palestinians may not sign treaties with powers hostile to Israel.

• A Palestinian state must allow Israeli civilian and military aircraft unfettered access to Palestinian airspace, allow Israel to retain control of the airwaves and to station Israeli troops on a future state’s eastern and southern borders.

• Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, a nod to the hawkish side of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition that has raised concerns that the Palestinian Authority, which nominally governs the West Bank, does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

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