Main Points of Palestinian Response to U.S. Plan
JERUSALEM – Here are the main points of the Palestinian response to the U.S.-authored peace plan, according to Palestinian sources. The response was sent to Washington by letter Wednesday, they said.
Territory: Palestinians would get 95 percent of the West Bank for their state, under the American plan. They are asking for a map with details of the planned land transfer, according to Palestinian officials speaking on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. plan calls for Israel to rent 3 percent of the West Bank, in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron, and 1 percent in the north of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian sources said. The rental would run for 20 years. Again, the Palestinians are seeking details, the sources said.
In exchange for the 5 percent of the West Bank Israel is keeping, it would give the Palestinians some land just outside the southeastern Gaza Strip, under the U.S. proposal. The Palestinians want to know this land's specific location and size, the Palestinian sources said.
The U.S. plan calls for Israel to retain major Jewish settlements around Jerusalem, relinquishing 60 to 70 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The plan also calls for the West Bank to be bisected by an Israeli-controlled corridor 6-10 miles wide, stretching from Jerusalem in the west to the Dead Sea in the east — a proposal the Palestinians sharply reject, the sources said.
Jerusalem: Under the U.S. plan, the Palestinians would gain sovereignty over the Al Aqsa mosque compound, known as the Noble Sanctuary and the third-holiest shrine in Islam, but Israel would have control of the archaeological sites that lie beneath the surface. The Palestinians are seeking sovereignty over the underground as well, the Palestinian sources said.
Israel's government publicly signaled willingness to relinquish sovereignty of the hilltop, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and the site of the biblical Jewish Temples. Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, the western slope of the hilltop enclosure and the holiest site in Judaism, is uncontested.
Under the plan, Palestinians would gain control of traditionally Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. They welcome that but want details about the fate of Jewish neighborhoods in mainly Arab parts of the city, the sources said.
Security: Under the American plan, Israeli forces would remain in the Jordan Valley for three to six years, controlling the borders, and after that an international force would patrol the area. The Palestinians want details.
Refugees: The biggest sticking point. Palestinians have made no public statement expressing willingness to go along with reported terms of the U.S. proposal on refugees, although Israeli sources have characterized it as being an effective swap for Israeli concessions on the Haram as-Sharif.
Israeli news reports and sources have said the U.S. plan calls for Palestinians to largely relinquish the "right of return" for refugees to homes in what is now Israel. Some of the nearly 4 million Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan would be settled in the new Palestinian state, and a very small number would be allowed into Israel for family reunification. A large international aid package would aid in resettlement and compensation.