Netanyahu trying to block U.S. from going public with peace plan

JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrambled Tuesday to keep Washington from going public with a proposal for Israel to withdraw from more West Bank land than he wants included in any pullback.
Netanyahu asked visiting American Jewish leaders to help stop President Clinton from announcing the proposal for a troop pullback from 13.1 percent of the West Bank, the Haaretz daily said.
The Israeli leader also dispatched senior advisers to Washington to win support in Congress for Israel’s position that it can only hand over land once the Palestinians have met a list of security demands — and then, much less than 13 percent.
In a speech Monday night, Netanyahu warned Clinton not to try to corner Israel with his own peace initiative.
“The only way to true peace are negotiations between the parties involved,” Netanyahu told the visiting U.S. Jewish leaders.
“Israel — and Israel alone — will make decisions vital for its security,” he said. “An imposed solution is neither desirable nor viable and it simply will not happen. It never happened in the 50 years of Israel’s life, and it will not happen now.”
In January, U.S. officials asked Israel and the Palestinians to consider a proposal for Israel to withdraw from 13.1 percent of the West Bank over 12 weeks. The United States had been expected to go public with the initiative some time ago, but the Persian Gulf crisis diverted policymakers’ attention.
The Palestinians have said they would only respond to an official U.S. proposal.
“We are waiting for the Americans to move forward,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday.