Britain and France are spearheading a new peace proposal for the Middle East that could put the Israel's leaders on the defensive by pushing them to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians within a year, Israeli officials reportedly said on Sunday.
The initiative is expected to be tabled by March following the formation of a new Israeli government after next week's general election. It will include a provision for a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem – a major sticking point in past negotiations.
The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the plan was being spearheaded by Britain and France with Germany's support. It could eventually be adopted as a pan-European initiative by the EU's foreign policy chief, Baroness Ashton, the newspaper reported.
Disclosure of the initiative follows international condemnation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Right-wing government over a recent wave of plans to expand West Bank settlements, which the EU and US fear could kill off prospects for a two-state solution.
"We do know that the EU is planning to come up with something after the elections, when the new government has been formed," one Israeli official told The Daily Telegraph.
"We don't know if it's going to be a fully-fledged plan, or an idea or something more or less ambitious because we have not been consulted. We believe they may want to put forward some sort of deal with parameters but they are perfectly conscious of the fact that an agreement can only be negotiated between the two sides."