Syria Calls for United Arab Position on Jerusalem
The Syrian government called Monday for a unified Arab position on Jerusalem to preserve the city's Arab character and the rights of the Palestinians as they negotiate with Israel.
Tishrin, the government-run newspaper, said the situation was serious and accused Israeli officials of "wanting to liquidate the Palestinian cause by proposing compensation payments to the Palestinians in exchange for their land."
"This necessitates a unified Arab position to support the Arab character of Jerusalem and the Palestinians' national rights," the paper said.
Jerusalem's Mufti Ekrima Sabri, issued a religious decree Sunday forbidding Palestinians to accept Israeli compensation payments if they did not return to land they owned before the creation of Israel in 1948.
Tishrin said the mufti's stance bolstered the Palestinians' stance at the Camp David talks and urged them "not to sell off Palestinian land and to demand the application of international resolutions."
The fate of refugees and the status of Jerusalem are two of the thorniest issues up for discussion as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat continue talks at the US presidential retreat of Camp David.
A total of some 3.7 million Palestinians are currently registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. They are Palestinians made homeless when the state of Israel was established in 1948 and their descendants - DAMASCUS (AFP)
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