Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, an opponent of the peace process, says that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to go through with giving up 86 percent of the occupied West Bank as a Palestinian state.
The 14-86% split is said to be Ariel Sharon’s vision, and Elkin insisted that the Palestinians rejected that because it didn’t include any of occupied East Jerusalem, and that this proved a deal couldn’t be made.
Netanyahu’s referendum requirement means any deal Netanyahu would nominally be willing to “go for” would still have to face an uphill battle with settlers, and analysts say they don’t think any deal is likely to happen.
Israel is said to be planning to offer some limitations to West Bank settlement expansion for the duration of the talks, though it will be well short of even the “partial settlement freeze” previously talked about.
The “talks” for now are just preliminary talks, and whether they ever amount to full scale talks remains to be seen. The US is pressing hard for that, but Israeli factions are warning that President Bush offered written guarantees to support Israeli claims on the occupied territories.