Palestinian Cabinet Vows no Compromise on Jerusalem
The Palestinian cabinet insisted in a tough statement Sunday coinciding with US envoy Dennis Ross's efforts to revive peace talks, that there will be no compromise with Israel on the key issue of Jerusalem, reported The Associated Press.
The Palestinian cabinet said Israel must withdraw from east Jerusalem, which would become the Palestinian capital.
"The Jerusalem issue is not negotiable and cannot be so today, tomorrow or in the future," the cabinet said in a communiqué distributed by WAFA, the Palestinian news agency.
Earlier, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, the Palestinian Authority's secretary-general warned that if Israel were to annex parts of the West Bank in retaliation for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence, the Jewish settlers would become hostages, said the AP.
"Israel has a presence in the Palestinian lands which would be on the level of hostages in the hands of Palestinians," he told the Voice of Palestine radio. "These settlements that are in the Palestinian lands will become isolated and will face a real danger if Israel closed off all territories from all sides."
Barak has hinted that if Palestinian President Yasser Arafat declares a state unilaterally, he might annex areas of the West Bank or seal off the Palestinian areas.
On Sunday, Barak told his Cabinet that the ball was in the Palestinians' court. "We are in a waiting period since we have yet to hear from them about an openness and willingness to discuss the ideas that were raised at Camp David," Barak said, according to a Cabinet statement.
US envoy Ross was in the region in an effort to prod the sides along, following the collapse of the Camp David summit last month over competing claims to Jerusalem.
On Sunday evening, he met Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Dahlan at an undisclosed location in Jerusalem, a Palestinian official was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the region following Camp David's collapse, Syria's Foreign Minister Farouq Shara visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt to discuss the status of Jerusalem, added the agency.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is to visit the two countries this week in his first trip abroad since he took over as president after his father's death in June, the AP said - Albawaba.com
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