Report: Israel, Palestinians already have Draft Agreement
Israel and the Palestinians have already reached a draft agreement that will give the Palestinians limited control over Jerusalem and provide up to 140 billion dollars of aid over the next 20 years, the Israeli newspaper Yehdiot Aharonot said Friday.
The newspaper, citing unnamed US sources, said the non-binding agreement will serve as a base for an eventual three-way summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and US President Bill Clinton.
The document, according to the newspaper, calls for about 40,000 Jewish settlers to live under Palestinian sovereignty. Israel would annex the heavily settled areas closer to its borders.
In return for the agreement, the United States and other countries would pledge aid of 130 to 150 billion dollars over the next 20 years, with about 100 billion going to improve the plight of the millions of Palestinian refugees, Yehdiot Aharonot said.
Concerning the refugees' right to return to Israel, the newspaper said the two sides reached "an opaque formula that would satisfy the Arabs" but has "no practical meaning."
On Jerusalem, Yehdiot Aharonot quoted an unnamed US official who said Barak has agreed to give Arab neighborhoods a status similar to much of the West Bank, with civilian powers being transferred to the Palestinian Authority but security still in the hands of the Israeli army.
The US official said that Jerusalem, which Israel considers its capital but also holds Muslim and Christian holy sites, holds special significance in negotiations because without an agreement "the Palestinians wouldn't feel obliged to proclaim an end to the conflict."
Barak, who has promised a referendum on any agreement, believes he can win the approval of 75 percent of Israelis, the official told Yehdiot Aharonot.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright plans to arrive in the region next week and will likely work to organize a three-way summit to be held next month.
In early May, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that the "basis of a peace agreement" had been reached that would give the Palestinians up to 90 percent of the West Bank and a parliament in a Jerusalem suburb.
The report was denied by both Israeli and Palestinian officials - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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