Qurei: Solve divisive issues before ME parley

Palestinian negotiator says conference must create clear peacemaking foundations; PA official: Taba talks good basis.

October 12, 2007 07:00
1 minute read.
Qurei: Solve divisive issues before ME parley

Olmert Abbas 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Israel and the Palestinians must come up with a detailed agreement on the most divisive issues between them ahead of a US-sponsored peace conference, the lead Palestinian negotiator said Saturday. But Ahmed Qurei emphasized that negotiating teams that began work last week have not forged a written agreement on any of these issues - final borders, the status of disputed Jerusalem and a solution for Palestinians who lost their homes during the war that followed Israel's 1948 creation. The document that is to be presented at the conference "should be a detailed, clearcut document on the final status issues," Qurei said after meeting with US diplomat David Welch. If the conference fails to create clear foundations for peacemaking, "the outcome will not be good," he added. Qurei's comments came one day after a senior Palestinian official told Israel Radio that the PA would accept concessions made by Israel in the Taba discussions that took place six years ago. The source added that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that a draft summary made during the talks would be used as a basis for negotiations. No agreement was reached at the end of the six-day summit although both Palestinians and Israelis stated that it was the closest to reaching a final settlement than any previous peace negotiations. At Taba both sides presented, for the first time, their own maps of the West Bank as a basis of discussion. Reportedly, the points of contention that ultimately proved insurmountable were the refugees and the final status of Jerusalem's holy sites. Regarding Jerusalem, both sides reportedly agreed that the Arab neighborhoods would form a Palestinian capital. The official, a member of a current team of Palestinian negotiators, told Israel Radio that although the differences between Olmert and Abbas were slim, the Israeli team was hesitant and cautious about arriving at an agreement. Further, the official said that Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to "return to the Palestinian state" and claimed that if Israel were to allow a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, the PA would be willing to compromise on other issues.

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