Israel: Years Delay of Jerusalem Issue is Possible
Israel's chief negotiator Oded Eran said Monday it was possible that settlement of the thorny issue of the fate of Jerusalem with the Palestinians could be delayed for several years.
AFP quoted Eran as saying "if we don't achieve a full accord on the question of Jerusalem, it is possible to reach an understanding on certain aspects and to declare that the others will be re-examined in a few years."
"This time lapse could enable us to reach a formal accord more easily because the issue would prove less sensitive for the two sides," Eran added.
The future of Jerusalem, both Israel and the Palestinians consider as their capital, is one of the most emotive issues to be tackled if the two sides are to reach a comprehensive peace accord by a September deadline.
Israeli cabinet minister Haim Ramon said Sunday that agreement with the Palestinians over Jerusalem was impossible at the moment, AP said Monday.
"Our position is clear: keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Their position is the opposite: divided sovereignty over the city. Because the Palestinians refuse to compromise, there will be no accord," he said.
On the other hand, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has vowed to declare an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital by September, even without a peace accord with Israel.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are due to get underway again on Sunday in the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat following two rounds of intensive discussions in the United States that Eran said had failed to achieve any "tangible progress."
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Sunday in Amman that his side had asked Jordan to help move forward the stumbling peace process with Israel, according to Reuters.
"We asked Jordan to get involved to help us get the withdrawal completed (from the West Bank), to put an end to settlement activity, and to free prisoners of war and Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons," he said.
Ahead of the September deadline, the two sides have set themselves a May target date for a framework pact on the key outstanding issues -- borders, the return of Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements in occupied territory and water and security, as well as Jerusalem -(Agencies)
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