Areas A, B and C of the Palestinian territories (Mideast Web)

Areas A, B and C of the Palestinian territories (Mideast Web)

Israel is paying attention to the growing international pressure to create a Palestinian state in the absence of direct negotiations. A Haaretz article on Sunday reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has drafted a map of a proposed Palestinian state in provisional borders.

While the still-unpublished proposal does not aim to truly end the occupation or create an actual Palestinian state, one might still be tempted to conclude that the Israeli leadership is beginning to realize it cannot perpetuate the status quo for much longer. However, Lieberman’s reported proposal to hand over 40 percent of the Palestinian territories without evacuating any settlements is a far cry from progress. In fact, it is merely an attempt to formalize the status quo in place since the failed Oslo implementation over a decade ago.

As reported, the Lieberman plan would transfer areas “A” and “B” (Some 40% of the West Bank) to the Palestinians, areas already under Palestinian Authority control today. Lieberman proposes the building of a system of roads connecting Palestinian cities to create territorial contiguity. He conveniently forgets to mention that such a system of roads already exists, exclusively for Jewish use. Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat responded to news of the proposal, rejecting it outright: “The Palestinian state will not be established on only 50% of the West Bank’s land.”

The timing of the plan’s release may indicate that Israel’s foreign minister understands Israel can no longer ignore moves in the international arena to advance the creation of a Palestinian state, perhaps even an understanding that the state of Palestine is an eventuality. Erekat seems to agree: “Lieberman’s plan came after the Israelis felt embarrassed and isolated by the international community, which has gradually supported the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.” Lieberman may have accepted that Palestine will be created, but he is ready to fight tooth and nail to ensure it only takes place on Israel’s terms – itself an act of unilateralism.