Israel and the Palestinians must compromise on sovereignty over east Jerusalem, the key issue blocking a peace deal between the two sides, Israeli Minister Haim Ramon said Wednesday.
"Both sides must make concessions and compromises," said Ramon, a minister in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, after a meeting with Peter Hain, British deputy foreign minister.
"If the Palestinians think that we are going to be the only side that makes concessions, I am afraid it will be very difficult to reach an agreement between us and the Palestinians," added Ramon.
But a top aide to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, was quoted in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds as saying "the Palestinian leadership is not willing to accept limitations on sovereignty in (east) Jerusalem."
Ramon did not confirm an Israeli media report that the United States has proposed a new plan to divide control over the east Jerusalem compound.
"Everybody knows that we are discussing Jerusalem. There are many ideas, sometimes creative, sometimes not very creative," Ramon said.
"This is the key question for an agreement between us and the Palestinians. I hope they will find a solution for the future of the city of Jerusalem that will take into consideration the interests of both sides," he added.
Both Ramon and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hain, who is expected to meet Arafat on Thursday, stressed that a compromise was better than no peace deal at all.
"These are days of destiny for Israel and the Palestinians. This opportunity must not be lost," said Hain, adding that he did not bring any "fancy ideas" to end the conflict, but would use Britain's influence in the region to push for peace.
Ramon said he hoped "everybody will understand that it will be almost unforgivable if we miss this golden opportunity to bring and end to the conflict between us and the Palestinians.” – OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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