Mahmoud Abbas offered the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter to remain under Israel’s control as part of a peace settlement, an Arabic newspaper reported.
The Palestinian Authority president made the offer as part of a written proposal to U.S. Mideast negotiator George Mitchell, the London-based Al-Hayat reported over the weekend.
The proposal reportedly also included forming an independent Palestinian state on land along the 1967 borders with land swaps of about 2.3 percent in order to encompass some West Bank settlement blocs. The rest of the Old City would be the capital of the Palestinian state but open to all faiths, according to the report.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday during an interview with Israel Radio that Abbas did not make such an offer.
Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister and the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister discussed coordination between Israel and the Palestinians at a meeting in Jerusalem. Ehud Barak and Salam Fayyad had a public handshake following Monday’s meeting at the King David Hotel.
They talked about Palestinian Authority activity in preparing the Gaza Strip crossings for the expanded supply of civilian goods to Gaza, according to Barak’s office. Barak and Fayyad also discussed continuing security and economic coordination in the West Bank, as well as coordination on joint Israel-Palestinian Authority projects.
The leaders agreed to maintain the direct link between the Defense Ministry and Fayyad’s office in order to increase cooperation and provide a rapid response when necessary, according to Barak’s office.
Palestinian groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine slammed the meeting.
Israel Won’t ‘Pay Any Price’ for Shalit Release, Bibi Says
Israel will free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the release of Gilad Shalit, but it will not “pay any price,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a live address to the nation.
The address last Thursday came on the fifth day of a cross-country march by the captured Israeli soldier’s family and supporters that had attracted thousands of people. The march will end this week in Jerusalem, where Shalit’s parents vowed to camp out across from the prime minister’s official residence until their son is released.
“The German mediator’s offer which we agreed to accept called for the release of 1,000 terrorists. This is the price I am prepared to pay to bring Gilad home,” Netanyahu said. “I said yes to the deal and it is ready for immediate implementation. But there are prices that I am not prepared to pay and they are not included in this difficult deal.”
Netanyahu said he would not be willing to return dangerous terrorists to the West Bank, nor is he willing to release what he termed “top terrorists,” worried that they would commit more terror acts after their release.
Shalit’s father, Noam, said after the speech that Netanyahu was recycling the words of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Also, he said, “The prime minister drew horrifying scenarios from 25 years ago and from six years ago about terrorists who were released and then murdered Israelis, as if nothing had changed since then, as if Israel had no security services.”
Hamas gunmen abducted Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid in June 2006. The International Red Cross has not been allowed access to Shalit in his four years of captivity.
Israel Releases Gaza Goods Blacklist
Israel released its blacklist of goods that will not be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip.
The list was published Monday on the Foreign Ministry’s website. It includes two categories of items whose entry into Gaza is subject to Israeli control: items subject to specific permission and construction items and materials. Items not on the two lists are allowed into Gaza without specific permission.
Items that require specific permission include arms and munitions and dual-use items, such as certain chemicals used for explosives including fertilizers and metal parts.
Construction materials to facilitate construction projects in Gaza authorized by the Palestinian Authority and implemented and monitored by the international community will be permitted entry, according to the list.