'Abbas didn't agree to let Israel control Kotel'

Erekat denies report PA had submitted proposals for land swap.

Mitchell with Erekat and Abbas 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mitchell with Erekat and Abbas 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Chief Palestinian Authority Negotiator Saeb Erekat on Saturday denied a report claiming that PA President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a written proposal agreeing to Israel maintaining control over the Western Wall and carrying out a land swap in the West Bank, reported Israel Radio.
According to a Saturday report in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Abbas had agreed that the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem remain under Israeli sovereignty in the context of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
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Al-Hayat reported that Abbas made the offer in “written ideas” he presented to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell at the beginning of the “proximity talks” with Israel.
Abbas’s ideas, the newspaper report said, called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on land equal to 100 percent of the entire West Bank, while carrying out a 2.3% land swap between the two sides.
Palestinian officials in Ramallah said that Abbas’s proposals were largely based on the peace negotiations conducted in 2000, first at Camp David and later at the Egyptian resort of Taba.
The proposed land swap would enable Israel to annex large settlement blocs in the West Bank such as Gush Etzion, Givat Ze’ev and Modi’in Ilit, as well as a strip of land opposite Ben-Gurion Airport, the officials told the newspaper.
In return, the Palestinians would be given a strip of land adjacent to Hebron that would be the same size as the territory annexed by Israel, they added.
With regard to Jerusalem, Abbas’s ideas envisage an Israeli withdrawal from east Jerusalem, including the Old City, with the exception of the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. The city would also remain open to followers of all religions.
In addition, the safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be reopened, the report said.
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the Al-Hayat report on Saturday night.