Netanyahu Weighs Interim Palestinian Peace Deal

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may offer the Palestinian Authority a new diplomatic initiative: an interim agreement to establish a Palestinian state with temporary borders. It's an offer the P.A. has turned down in the past.

An interim agreement was part of the U.S.-backed Road Map presented during former President George W. Bush's administration.

According to government sources, the unrest in surrounding Arab countries and the P.A.'s refusal to restart negotiations with Israel prompted Netanyahu to consider offering an interim agreement.

"The Palestinians aren't ready to reach a final-status agreement to end the conflict, in light of the instability in the region," the prime minister reportedly said.

Netanyahu may present the plan calling for a "demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," in a major policy address, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister's Office did not release details of the plan nor when it may be announced, though it's likely to be presented before mid-March when leaders of the Quartet - U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia - meet in Paris during the G20 meeting.

Netanyahu decided not to dispatch chief Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho to meetings with Quartet representatives in Brussels, preferring to wait until the new initiative is unveiled, perhaps as early as next week.

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