JERUSALEM, Israel - A senior Israeli official denied reports Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis for restarting negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu and others have referred to those lines as "indefensible borders."
"The prime minister has been very clear. There will be no return to the 1967 borders. Future borders must be negotiated. They must reflect new realities on the ground and Israel's national and strategic interests," an Israeli official told CBN News.
Some news agencies reported that Netanyahu would be willing to make that concession if the Palestinian Authority reneged on its plan to seek unilateral recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September.
"We are willing in a framework of restarting the peace talks to accept a proposal that would contain elements that would be difficult for Israel and we would find very difficult to endorse," The Associated Press and Reuters quoted one official, on condition of anonymity, as saying.
Both Israel's Channel 2 television and Israeli Radio reported that Netanyahu would be willing to accept some kind of a land swap of sovereign Israeli territory in exchange for holding onto its "main settlement blocs," such as Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim and Gush Etzion.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday the P.A. has not dropped its plan to go to the U.N. in September. The Arab League has already submitted a request for the United Nations to recognize "Palestine" as a state.
If President Barack Obama or anyone else vetoes the initiative in the Security Council, the General Assembly would likely pass a "nonbinding resolution."
At a conference in Tel Aviv this spring, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the "automatic majority against Israel in the U.N." would allow the measure to pass in the General Assembly.
"Israel will not succeed to prevent recognition of a Palestinian state in the General Assembly, driven by an automatic Arab majority," Ayalon said.
"But such a decision will not be taken in the Security Council where there is a majority of responsible countries," he said.
But many Palestinian Arabs believe even a non-binding resolution would further isolate Israel and upgrade their status in future negotiations.
On Monday, senior P.A. official Yasser Abed Rabbo announced plans to kick off a series of mass marches against the Israeli "occupation" on the eve of the September 20 U.N. vote.
Rabbo said they've named the campaign "Palestine 194," representing the quest to become the 194th U.N. member.
"The appeal to the U.N. is a battle for all Palestinians and in order to succeed, it needs millions to pour into the streets," Rabbo said.