The Palestinians recognize the interests of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and are willing to share the city as part of a peace deal with Israel, a senior Palestinian official said in remarks published Monday.
"We Palestinians do not seek to divide Jerusalem; the city is already divided. Instead we recognize the interests of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and seek to share the city," said the top Palestinian official for Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini.
Bitter discord over the fate of the city -- holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims -- led to the collapse of the US-sponsored Camp David summit last month, a breakdown both Israel and the United States have blamed on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
But Husseini said in a commentary published in the International Herald Tribune newspaper that the Palestinians are willing to compromise on Jerusalem, the most emotive issue standing in the way of a peace accord to end decades of conflict.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its "eternal undivided capital," including the eastern sector of the city it occupied and annexed in the Six Day War with the Arabs in 1967, a claim never recognized by the international community.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of an independent state they plan to declare in mid-September, the deadline for a final peace deal.
"In negotiations at Camp David and elsewhere, we have expressed willingness to reach an agreement that would give Israel sovereignty over all of west Jerusalem in exchange for recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem," Husseini said.
In addition, he said the Palestinians have proposed establishing an open city giving everyone free access to all parts of Jerusalem and were willing to consider special arrangements for the holy sites.
But he said the Israeli "compromise" was an offer to give a small degree of control over municipal matters in Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, in return for Palestinian agreement to Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.
"Israel demands sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. We seek sovereignty only over east Jerusalem. Who is being inflexible?" Husseini said -- OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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