Abbas denies offering major concessions to Israel

The Palestinians offered Israel major concessions on east Jerusalem and on the issue of refugees in 2008 peace talks, according to the leaked documents.

Abbas denies offering major concessions to Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denied offering major concessions to Israel and said on Monday that reporting of purportedly leaked documents had presented Israeli positions as those of his own negotiators.

The Palestinians offered Israel major concessions on east Jerusalem and on the issue of refugees in 2008 peace talks, according to the leaked documents on Monday.

Details of the proposals emerged late on Sunday when the Al-Jazeera satellite channel began publishing the first of more than 1,600 documents known as the "Palestine Papers" which cover more than 10 years of secret Middle East peace talks.

"What is intended is a mix-up. I have seen them yesterday present things as Palestinian, but they were Israeli ... This is therefore intentional," Abbas told reporters in Cairo after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Al Jazeera television published on Sunday what it said were extracts of documents covering negotiations in recent years.

Abbas said all his talks with the Israelis had been explained in full to Arab governments, backed up by documents.

"Keep settlements"

The documents, which were also shared with British paper the Guardian, provoked surprise and anger among the Palestinian leadership, with chief negotiator Saeb Erakat dismissing them as "full of distortions" and president Mahmud Abbas insisting his government had nothing to hide.

Described by Al Jazeera and the Guardian as "the most important leak in the history of the conflict," the papers include hundreds of official Palestinian transcripts from private meetings with the Israelis.

Central to the revelations was a series of far-reaching Palestinian offers regarding illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem which were made by in 2008, the scope of which were never made public.

During series of meetings that year, the Palestinians offered to let Israel keep all its settlements in east Jerusalem, with the exception of Har Homa, as well as the Jewish Quarter and part of the Armenian Quarter in the Old City.

But Israel rejected the offer, saying it did not meet their demands, the papers show.

"Biggest Yerushalayim"

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat went on the defensive, dismissing the documents as "a bunch of lies" during an appearance on Al Jazeera shortly after they were released.

In a heated exchange, Erekat was confronted by critics including Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al -Quds al-Arabi newspaper, "who asked him who had authorised him or the Palestinian leadership to give up Islamic holy sites".

One document quoted Erekat as telling an Israeli official: "It is no secret that ...we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim in history." He used the Hebrew word for Jerusalem.

Ahmed Qurie, the lead Palestinian negotiator in 2008, was quoted as proposing that Israel annex all Jewish settlements in Jerusalem except Har Homa. He also said Israel could keep control of a part of the Old City of Jerusalem.

"This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition," the document quoted Ahmed Qurie as saying.

He added that the Palestinians had refused to make such a concession during negotiations led by the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in 2000.

"Gaza war tip"

Al-Jazeera said the concessions were offered during talks between Condoleezza Rice who was secretary of state at the time, Israel's then foreign minister Tzipi Livni, former Palestinian premier Ahmad Qorei, and Erakat.

"We proposed that Israel annexes all settlement in Jerusalem except Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa)," the documents quote Qorei as saying.

"This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition," he said.

But "the Israeli side refused to even place Jerusalem on the agenda, let alone offer the PA concessions in return for its historic offer," it said.

The documents also show how PA leaders had been "privately tipped off" about Israel's 2008-2009 war against the Gaza Strip ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas, the paper said.

"Hamas reaction"

Abbas, who is currently in Cairo for talks with Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, also said the Palestinian Authority (PA) had nothing to hide.

"With everything we have done -- in terms of activities with the Israelis or the Americans -- we have given the Arabs details," Abbas said in remarks published by Palestinian news agency Wafa. "There is nothing hidden from the Arab brothers."

The strongest reaction by far was from Gaza's Hamas rulers with spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri saying the papers revealed "the ugly face" of the Ramallah leadership and "the level of its cooperation with the occupation."

Hamas said the documents revealed the Palestinian Authority's role in "attempting to liquidate the Palestinian cause".

"This exposes the Palestinian leadership, putting it in a position where it will be impossible to win the confidence of the people," said Zakaria al-Qaq, Palestinian commentator.

Washington said it was reviewing the documents, with State Department spokesman Philip Crowley saying: "We cannot vouch for their veracity" in a Twitter post.

The Palestinians say settlement growth on land occupied by Israel in 1967 will make the establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible. They want to found their state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. the World Court ruled the settlements illegal.



Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2011, 14:58
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