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Files show Palestinians unyielding on settlements

Jan. 30, 2011 2:31 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2011 9:55 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Palestinian delegates to 2010 peace talks rejected out of hand Israel's demand to hold on to swathes of West Bank settlements, documents given to Agence France-Presse on Saturday show.

A discussion paper prepared by the Palestinian side and made available on condition of anonymity challenges the Israeli assumption that the large blocs of adjacent enclaves where most settlers live would be annexed to Israel in a deal to set up an independent Palestinian state.

The document, dated May 2010, also shoots down a reported Israeli proposal that the Palestinian state take over some Palestinian villages currently within Israel in exchange.

"We will not entertain swapping Palestinians on either side of the 1967 border," it said.

"Nor will we engage in land swap discussions that use so-called settlement blocs as the point of reference, let alone accept such areas' wholesale annexation."

The document was one of several given to AFP in the wake of publication of documents by television channel Al-Jazeera, which purported to show Palestinian officials prepared to make sweeping concessions to Israel at talks in September 2010.

They restate long-standing Palestinian positions on the sensitive issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

The files released by Al-Jazeera contain minutes of discussions between Israel, the United States and Palestinians, in which Palestinian negotiators offered to cede large parts of East Jerusalem and conceded that only limited numbers of Palestinian refugees would be able to return home.

The documents say that "The Palestinian state must include adequate land within east Jerusalem for the city's own growth and development. East Jerusalem must also have meaningful territorial, economic and other links with the rest of Palestine."

The papers all carry the disclaimer: "This paper is for discussion purposes only, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
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