Palestinian PM urges US not to recognize West Bank settlement blocs, to restrict right of return
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei on Wednesday warned the United States against granting Israeli requests to recognize West Bank settlement blocs and to restrict the rights of Palestinian refugees.
Qurei spoke as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was in Washington for talks with President Bush about his "disengagement plan."
In return to the proposed withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements, Sharon hopes to receive assurances from Washington that Israel can retain large blocs of West Bank settlements. In addition, Israel wants assurances that Palestinian refugees not be allowed to return to land inside Israel after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The New York Times on Wednesday quoted a U.S. administration official as saying that President Bush, after meeting with Sharon later on the day, would mention in his speech Israel's right to maintain control over a number of settlements in the West Bank.
The right of return for Palestinian refugees, meanwhile, will only be limited to the area of a future Palestinian state, and not to Israeli territory, the daily added.
For his part, Qurei said the Palestinians have "genuine concerns" about reports that the United States is considering the Israeli requests. According to The AP, he said the Palestinian leadership was meeting to discuss "these dangerous developments."
Qurei added any Israeli pullout must be in accordance with the "road map" peace plan. "Any statement or language whose context does not coincide with the peace process or contradicts the road map...will leave nothing for negotiations," Qurei commented.
"We hope the U.S. administration, which isn't the main partner of the road map, will remain committed to its responsibilities...and not give any language that is considered a reward for a party or a side at the expense of the other party. Otherwise, there will be no peace," he said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)