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Israeli seeks interim deal with Palestinians

Monday - 5/20/2013, 7:02am  ET

File - In this Jan.16, 2013 file photo, Yair Lapid, popular former TV anchorman and head of the new centrist party Yesh Atid, poses for a portrait at his house during an interview for the Associated Press, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Lapid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior coalition partner, said in a published interview Sunday, May 19, 2013, that reaching a final peace agreement with the Palestinians is unrealistic at the current time and that the sides should instead pursue an interim arrangement. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

JOSEF FEDERMAN
Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior coalition partner says that reaching a final peace agreement with the Palestinians is unrealistic at the current time and the sides should instead pursue an interim arrangement.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid's assessment, delivered in a published interview Sunday just days before the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, throws a contentious idea into the mix as the U.S. searches for ways to restart peace talks.

It remains unclear whether the idea of a temporary arrangement will be raised during Kerry's visit later this week. In March, American officials confirmed that an interim arrangement, while not their preference, was one of the ideas being explored.

With the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on many key issues seemingly unbridgeable, pursuing a Palestinian state with temporary borders has emerged as an option in recent months, particularly among Israelis searching for a way out of the status quo. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected this option, fearing an interim deal that falls short of their hopes will become permanent.

In order to allay Palestinian concerns, Lapid told the Yediot Ahronot daily that President Barack Obama should set a three-year timeline for determining the final borders of a Palestinian state. As a gesture to the Israelis, he also called on Obama to endorse the position laid out by President George W. Bush in 2004, allowing Israel to keep some of the Jewish settlements it has built on occupied lands.

The issue of Jewish settlements has been at the heart of the current 4
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