Report: PA would give Israel Kotel

Arab newspaper says Abbas willing to give Israel Jewish Quarter.

kotel plaza 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
kotel plaza 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed in principal to Israel maintaining control over the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem as part of a future peace agreement with Israel, but demands that Palestinians be given sovereignty over east Jerusalem and the rest of the Old City. This according to a report in London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat.
The report also stated that Abbas was willing to carry out a land swap for 2.3 percent of the West Bank to allow Israel to maintain some of the settlement blocks, in exchange for territory south of Hebron.
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Chief PA Negotiator Saeb Erekat denied the Al Hayat report on Saturday evening, according to Israel Radio.
Abbas told US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Thursday that the Palestinians won’t open direct negotiations with Israel unless progress is first made on the issues of borders and security. He added that no progress would be made in the peace process unless Israel recognized the June 4, 1967, lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
The PA president also said that the resumption of direct negotiations was contingent on Israel halting its “arbitrary measures” against the Palestinians, including house demolitions, arrests, closures and settlement construction.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian leadership's unwillingness to engage in direct talks in an interview that aired Friday night on Channel 1.
"We walk towards peace and they distance themselves from it," said Netanyahu. "If they can't sit with us, how can we achieve peace?"
The prime minister stated his willingness to discuss the end of the government's building freeze in Judea and Samaria, set to end in September, with Abbas. He went as far as to say that he would go to Ramallah to negotiate with Abbas if the PA chairman would come to Jerusalem.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report