The Palestinian leadership on Friday signaled its opposition to a compromise peace deal in the Middle East, insisting that any settlement must accord with existing UN resolutions.
"Any plan which distorts the international resolutions would open the way for anarchy and violence rather than achieve peace in the region," the leadership said in a statement issued after their weekly meeting here presided over by Yasser Arafat.
"Anxious to achieve peace, the Palestinian leadership is ready to accept all initiatives based on resolutions 242 and 338," the statement continued.
"The question of Jerusalem and the Muslim and Christian holy sites cannot be subject to bargaining."
UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 call for Israel to pull out from territory it captured in the June 1967 war in return for peace and security.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations reached stalemate over the question of the holy sites during three-way talks held at Camp David, Maryland, in July.
The sovereignty of east Jerusalem, which encompasses sacred sites for Muslims, Christians and Jews, is central to the impasse.
Israel and the Palestinians were due to have concluded a final peace deal by September 13, but remain divided on control over east Jerusalem as well as the final size and shape of a future Palestinian state.
The US side has been seeking compromise positions, which would allow for the peace talks to be re-launched.
Israeli television reported Wednesday that the US would suggest international sovereignty over the site in east Jerusalem's Old City.
The United States, however, declined to confirm the report.
Palestinian International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath on Thursday called for the United States to keep its initiatives within the UN resolutions' framework.
"I know that the US government is attempting to put together a paper that would attempt to bridge the gaps between the Palestinian and Israeli positions and to push the negotiations forward," he told reporters in Gaza.
"We would like to remind the United States and everybody else that our terms of reference are very clear," he added.
According to the daily Haaretz, the Americans will soon publish a plan bringing together initiatives which they hope will provide the basis for three weeks of intensive peace talks.
Among the disputed points covered will be Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, the fixing of the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state, security arrangements, water resources and -- above all - the status of Jerusalem, according to the newspaper.
Haaretz said that the US side would present six or seven formulas on Jerusalem and the holy sites, but would in fact seek to reach a partial accord and leave the really tough question for a later date -- RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP)
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