JERUSALEM (JTA) – A leading Palestinian official denied a newspaper report that Mahmoud Abbas offered the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter to remain under Israel’s control as part of a peace settlement.
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday during an interview with Israel Radio that the PA president did not make such an offer, as reported over the weekend by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
According to the Arabic paper, Abbas made the offer as part of a written proposal to U.S. Mideast negotiator George Mitchell.
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.
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 Palestinian slammed the meeting.