Palestinians reject Barak’s proposal

RAMALLAH/GAZA CITY: A senior Palestinian official yesterday rejected a proposal by Israeli Defense Minster Ehud Barak to give the Palestinians some neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to be the capital of the Palestinian state.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, said that “East Jerusalem is not a subject of torn neighborhoods; it is a unified unit connected to the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in 1967.”

Barak said during an interview with Al Jazeera channel that “our basic position is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but that we can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital and it will of course include all of the neighboring (Arab) villages around Jerusalem.”

Abed Rabbo said that Palestinian leadership “won’t accept less than all East Jerusalem and the West Bank as one territorial unit occupied by Israel in 1967. According to the international law, Israel has no right to annex or own any part of east Jerusalem.”

The US mediated in resuming the peace negotiations at a conference it hosted in Annapolis last November. Since then, several rounds of talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiations teams on permanent status issues like Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, water, borders of the future Palestinian state and security, have failed to make any progress due to the continuation of Israeli settlement constructions in West Bank and other Israeli measures on ground.

Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qorei yesterday denied earlier Israeli media reports talking about a progress in the political negotiations between the two sides. Qorei said in a press statement that such reports on achieving a progress in the talks are “just untrue and inaccurate media infiltrations. It is just the dust of the inter-factional battle in Israel.”

Earlier, Israeli media reports said that a progress has been recently achieved between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, adding that they had agreed on several permanent status issues.

Qorei has welcomed what he described as the international community’s rejection of the Israeli policy “based on settlements’ expansion and building the separation wall which writhes as a snake into the body of the West Bank.”

In another development, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) announced yesterday in Gaza that the a comprehensive internal Palestinian dialogue would start in early October. Tala Abu Zarifa, a member of the DFLP central committee told reporters “this was agreed upon in a meeting held in Cairo between a DFLP delegation and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in a bid to end political split.”

Also yesterday, the Israeli Civil Administration admitted that it wrongly issued an order for military use of a plot of Palestinian land near West Bank city of Ramallah where Israeli settlers recently built two homes, a report said yesterday. This admission makes little difference to the owners of the property, now that the construction is completed.

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