The idea has been “kicked around” in the State Department for several weeks, according to sources. It could be one element of a new American Middle East peace plan, the sources added, if President Bush decides to push forward with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as part of a fresh Middle East policy he is constructing.
At the same time, in an effort to bolster the regime of Mahmoud Abbas, the administration also has begun lobbying Congress to provide $100 million to fund forces loyal to the Palestinian president.
Talk of new ideas for breaking the deadlock in the Middle East come as pressure mounts on the United States and Israel to take action toward resolving the conflict. Jordan’s King Abdullah, who met Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in Amman, offered his services in brokering a deal and announced he would hold talks with all parties in an attempt to reach an agreement. The Jordanian monarch, who also has urged the United States to be more active on the issue, warned that without progress between Israelis and Palestinians, violence would increase.
The prospects for a meeting between Olmert and Abbas seemed greater this week after chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declared Tuesday that preparations for a summit “are ongoing.”
The idea of an independent Palestinian state with temporary borders is based on the American-backed peace plan known as the road map. The second phase of the plan, which was formally accepted by both Israelis and Palestinians, calls for a declaration of an independent state even before final borders are agreed upon between both sides.
Though the United States has maintained that the road map is still the only viable peace plan for the region, it never took off. This was mainly because of the Israeli insistence that the Palestinians curb terrorism as demanded in the first phase of the plan.