‘Extent of land exchange in dispute’

Abbas: Principle of territorial trade agreed, denies 4% discussed.

Mahmoud abbas 311 187 (photo credit: AP)
Mahmoud abbas 311 187
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinians and Israel disagree on the extent of territories to be exchanged, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday afternoon.
Following repeated publication of Palestinian openness to discussing a territorial exchange of about 4 percent, twice the 2% discussed in negotiations with Olmert’s government, Abbas reiterates the Palestinian Authority’s agreement to the principle of some land-trade at a 1:1 ratio, but stresses that “We did not agree about the land area, but we agreed on the principle of swapping land (equal) in quality and value.”
Abbas had this to say concerning the boycott of products produced in settlements: “We don’t boycott Israel, we have economic relations with Israel. We are boycotting the settlements – the entire international community supports this.”
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US envoy George Mitchell left Israel on Thursday afternoon after a brief two days, having met Abbas on Wednesday and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday, ending the second round of proximity talks, with each side claiming their contacts with the American mediator focused on something completely different.
Following a three-hour meeting with Mitchell, Netanyahu issued a statement saying the second part of their meeting focused on water issues, while the first part of the talks dealt with a number of issues, including gestures Israel might make to the Palestinians.
A day earlier, following Mitchell’s talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, true to what the Palestinians want the discussions to focus on, said the discussions centered on final-status issues such as borders and refugees.
Mitchell’s team released no information on the content of the talks, leading to the conclusion that either each side was simply telling the press what they wanted the talks to focus on, or that Mitchell was now talking about different issues with each side, and would only later get the two parties to focus on the same issues.
Abbas told Mitchell at their meeting Israeli “provocations” were threatening to foil the nascent negotiations.
Erekat, speaking after the meeting, expressed the hope that the parties would “exploit every moment” during the four-month proximity talks to reach agreement on the future borders of the Palestinian state.
Israeli officials have said repeatedly that final-status issues such as borders and refugees would have to be negotiated between the sides.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.