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Defense head: Israel, PA working to extend talks past 9-month period

Jan. 7, 2014 at 8:38 AM
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Israeli officials said an oral agreement on a framework for peace talks was possible because the Palestinian Authority indicated opposition to a position paper.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday the Israeli government was working to reach common ground with Palestinian negotiators so peace talks could extend beyond the nine months designated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Ya'alon said the Palestinian Authority was opposed to a position paper proposed by the United States.

Ya'alon said the two sides weren't discussing a specific "framework agreement," but terms that would establish the framework so discussions could proceed.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Army Radio Tuesday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's proposal to transfer Arab townships in Israel to Palestinian Authority control was untenable.

"I don't think that the state of Israel will get rid of Israeli citizens," Lapid said. "One of the things that we expect from a final-status agreement is that it would bring about a complete change in our relations with the world, which have been in constant decline these last few years."

"An agreement [that would entail population transfers] would mean giving up an improvement in our relations, and I don't want that," Lapid said.

Liberman said Sunday that the only agreement with the Palestinians that the Yisrael Beytenu party would support would include an exchange of populations not just territory, the Post said.

"We are not talking about a transfer, as was done to the Jewish settlements in Gush Katif," he said. "Nobody will be expelled from their homes or dispossessed of their possessions."

Rather, he said it would be a matter of "simply moving the border."

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reported that the United States apparently is investigating the possibility of changing the language in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative to include recognizing Israel as a Jewish state if a peace deal is reached.

Citing a report by al Ayyam, the Times said the alternative language also would include the provision that Israel's Arab citizens wouldn't be affected by recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

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