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Israel FM confirms interim Palestinian state plan

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MATTI FRIEDMAN | January 24, 2011 07:21 AM EST | AP

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JERUSALEM — Israel's foreign minister confirmed Monday that he has drawn up a plan for the creation of an interim Palestinian state with temporary borders in the absence of a full peace agreement.

Avigdor Lieberman argued that an interim arrangement was the only option, saying the Palestinians have turned down previous Israeli offers and no agreement is possible at present.

"There is no other way. We must go back to an interim agreement," he told Israel Radio, adding, "The plan is ready."

He offered no details and did not say when and if the plan would be made public.

A government official said Sunday that the plan would turn over up to 50 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been finalized.

The Palestinians want the entire West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of their independent state. They reject the idea of interim borders, fearing they would become permanent.

The outspoken Lieberman often acts independently of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been trying to draw the Palestinians back to direct talks on a final status deal.

After a long period of deadlock, talks resumed in September, 2010, only to collapse three weeks later when an Israeli settlement freeze expired.

The Haaretz daily reported Sunday that Lieberman has presented his map to Netanyahu, but the prime minister's office would not confirm the report, and Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said the Israeli leader remains committed to a final accord. In a recent interview, however, Netanyahu said he might seek a short-term deal if the deadlock in negotiations continues.

Lieberman spoke a day after the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera released some of what it said were 1,600 classified documents on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The documents showed the Palestinians were prepared to compromise on two of the core issues dividing the sides, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The report embarrassed the Palestinian Authority, the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank, and Palestinian officials have claimed that at least some of the documents were fabricated.