Israel and the Palestinians – The new reality

Israel is moving toward an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would see the West Bank, Gaza and the Gaza Strip under its sovereignty, in exchange for a complete withdrawal from the West, in a deal that could take years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been negotiating since early September, and a final agreement is expected to be announced in coming days, the two sides said.

Under the framework of the new agreement, Israel will withdraw from all of the West on the basis of a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Abbas and his Fatah faction would continue to administer Gaza, a territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed to the Palestinian territories in the 1980s.

Netanyahu and Abbas have long held that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the West bank and Gaza are part of the future Palestinian state.

The two sides have long sought to resolve the conflict through negotiations, with the United States and the European Union opposing the Israeli settlement project in the West and the United Nations calling for a halt to settlement construction.

But the talks broke down last year, with Netanyahu saying he would not reach a deal with Abbas in time to reach a two year deadline.

In a series of meetings with Abbas over the past two weeks, Netanyahu has tried to persuade him to abandon his demands for a comprehensive withdrawal from West Bank territory and accept the Israeli right to exist as a Jewish state, said one official with knowledge of the talks.

Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Ron Dermer, called the latest talks “positive” and said they are an important step forward in the peace process.

The deal would see Abbas take control of the Palestinian territory and end his years-long blockade of the Gaza strip, but it will still be up to the PA and the Palestinian government to implement.

The U.S. and EU have also called on Abbas to withdraw from Gaza.

Israel has said it will continue to keep the West to the 1967 borders, and will maintain its blockade of Gaza.