Palestinians Doubt Early Peace, Say Clinton Plan Falls Short of Demands
A senior Palestinian official said Monday that US President Bill Clinton's peace plan fell short of Palestinian demands and doubted that a deal could be hammered out in a short time.
"The ideas presented by the US president do not respond to the minimum Palestinian demands," Palestinian legislative council speaker Ahmed Qorei said, describing the plan as an attempt to "compromise" on international legitimacy.
"Therefore, I do not know how it will be possible to achieve an agreement in this short time," he told Voice of Palestine radio, adding that the gaps remained wide over the key issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"There are still differences over the issue of Jerusalem, Haram al-Sharif, land and settlements and the issue of Palestinian refugees, and even security," he said.
The two sides are expected to respond by Wednesday to Clinton's proposed deal, his 11th hour bid to wrest a peace deal from three months of deadly violence before he leaves office in less than a month's time.
Qorei said there had been progress on some points and retreat on others, without elaborating.
Clinton's proposals reportedly involve Israel turning over control of Arab neighborhoods of occupied east Jerusalem to the Palestinians along with the al-Aqsa mosque compound or Haram al-Sharif, known to Jews as Temple Mount.
However, the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, would remain under Israeli sovereignty.
In return, Palestinians would waive the right of return for some 3.5 million refugees, with only a small number allowed back to Israel for family reunification, the reports say.
In addition, Israel would withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, territories the Jewish state has occupied along with east Jerusalem since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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