The Palestinians will only participate in the US-sponsored peace conference expected to be held next month if general agreement is first reached with Israel on all the fundamental issues, Palestinian Authority officials here said Monday.
They said that in addition to Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the problem of the refugees, the PA was also seeking agreement on water, security and settlements.....
The officials also denied that the PA had agreed to discuss an exchange of land with Israel and limiting the number of refugees who would return to Israel proper. They said the PA's official position remained that Israel must withdraw from all the territories captured in 1967, including east Jerusalem, and that there would be no concessions on the "right of return."
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said he was unaware of any land swap agreement. He called on the media to refrain from publishing any unofficial documents or unauthorized statements......
According to another PA official, the Palestinians want the declaration of principles to include an Israeli commitment to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. "As President Mahmoud Abbas stated last week, we have no intention to compromise on any of our rights," he said.
Asked why the PA, which in recent weeks had expressed reservations about the conference, was now sounding more positive, the official said: "When [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice was here lately, she told us that the US administration was determined to turn the conference into a successful event. She also promised to exert pressure on Israel to soften its position."
And in Haaretz:
The upcoming Middle East conference should set a six-month deadline for the completion of a final peace agreement, the Palestinian information [Riad Malki] minister said Thursday.
There are several amazing statements that seem to indicate on the surface that the Palestinians have no grip on reality whatever, or else, on second thought, that they have an excellent grip on reality. Their proposals cannot be implemented, and there cannot be an agreement in six months or six hundred years based on these proposals. Moreover, the Palestinian government in Ramallah does not control Gaza. It is a government that scarcely controls its own territory, and it cannot meet even minimal payrolls without international help. Nonetheless, they are making "peace" conditions worthy of the victor of the Six Day War. They know that Israel will never agree to Return, they know that Israel cannot move nearly half a million Israelis out of Jerusalem and the West Bank. They know that there is very broad consensus in Israel that Israel has annexed Jerusalem by right, as opposed to wide divisions of opinion about the West Bank. Therefore, we must conclude that they see the conference as an opportunity for a tremendous propaganda victory in the Arab world and a way to perhaps gain some support for their positions in the world at large. It is another sally in the Peace offensive , and it must be met by an equally clear Israeli final status declaration proposal.
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