Palestinians open to possible land swap | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 12, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 12, 2007

Palestinians open to possible land swap

The Palestinians are ready to yield parts of the West Bank to Israel if compensated with an equal amount of Israeli territory, the lead Palestinian negotiator told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.
Ahmed Qureia, a former prime minister who has dealt with five Israeli prime ministers during 14 years of failed peacemaking, is trying again with No 6, Ehud Olmert.
And he's full of optimism, saying the US-hosted Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, tentatively set for Nov. 26, is a "very, very, very important opportunity." If it fails, he predicts Israelis and Palestinians will perhaps suffer more than in the blood-soaked years following the unsuccessful Camp David summit in 2000.
Israelis and Palestinians are slowly rebuilding trust, making compromise possible, the 71-year-old Qureia said in his modest office in Abu Dis, a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem which has been sliced in half by Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank.
Qureia has logged hundreds of hours with Israeli negotiators since 1993, when secret meetings near Oslo, Norway, led to the breakthrough accord of mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO.
Today he heads a four-member team that first met earlier this week with Olmert's top aides. Ahead of the November conference, the two sides are trying to write a joint declaration of principles on the core issues of the conflict borders, Jerusalem, settlements and Palestinian refugees.
The disputes have defied solution, but Qureia believes there could be enough common ground to come up with a general sentence or two on how to approach each issue.
For example, the Palestinians want the old Israeli-Palestinian frontier before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War to be the basis of border talks.

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