PA, US Say Circulating ‘Peace Document’ Untrue
Palestinian officials said Friday that a document purporting to be a US briefing paper on secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is untrue, reported The Associated Press.
The full text of the document, circulating among Israeli politicians, was published in the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper Friday.
It shows Israel prepared to make unprecedented concessions, planning to give up parts of Jerusalem and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, including all of the strategic Jordan Valley, to exchange some Israeli territory for West Bank land, and to recognize a limited right of return of Palestinian refugees, said the agency.
The document also anticipated that peace would cost over $100 billion in international aid, to be paid out over 10-20 years. Much of that money would go to Palestinian refugees.
The United States would be expected to contribute $25 billion, as well as "not much less" than $17 billion for Israeli security needs, to make a total of about $42 billion, according to the document.
Israeli justice minister, Yossi Beilin, one of the architects of previous interim peace agreements, told diplomats in Israel on Friday "the gaps between the sides are smaller than ever."
But Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qorei said the gaps remained wide, and that the purported US document had "no basis in truth."
Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office dismissed the paper as speculation. And American officials said they'd never seen it until it was published in the Israeli newspaper.
Israeli media said the document was being distributed by hard-line opposition leader Ariel Sharon, and by Natan Sharansky, a hawkish minister in Barak's cabinet. Neither man could be reached for comment Friday, when contacted by the AP.
Reports that the document originated with the Clinton administration were a misrepresentation, a US official said, adding that the document's authors were unknown to the Americans.
There were proposals in the document that the Americans had never even heard of, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Qorei, meanwhile, said he had been holding behind-the-scenes talks with his Israeli officials throughout the week, and that President Clinton's Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, was to join the group soon.
Ross arrived in the region Thursday to assess prospects for a Middle East summit in Washington, during which Barak and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat would try to outline the peace treaty due in September, said the agency - Albawaba.com
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