Palestinians Call on US, Israel to Set Borders

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Agence France Presse

Palestinians Call on US, Israel to Set Borders

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A shepherd walking near the settlement of Revava. The Palestinians on Wednesday called on the US administration and Israel to define borders in response to Israel's demand for recognition as the Jewish state. (AP)

RAMALLAH, Occupied Palestinian – The Palestinians on
Wednesday called on the US administration and Israel to define borders
in response to Israel's demand for recognition as the Jewish state.

"We officially demand that the US administration and the Israeli
government provide a map of the borders of the state of Israel which
they want us to recognise," senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed
Rabbo told AFP.

His remarks came after the US State Department asked the
Palestinians to extend a counter-proposal to Israel's call for
recognition as a "Jewish state" in exchange for a possible extension of
restrictions on settlement building.

The Palestinians rejected the offer, saying recognition of Israel's Jewish identity had no relation to the peace process.

They instead demanded that the US administration set the 1967 lines as the starting point for negotiations about final borders.

"We want to know whether this (Israeli) state includes our lands and
houses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem," Abed Rabbo said, referring
to Palestinian lands occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.

"If this map is based on the 1967 borders and provides for the end
of the Israeli occupation over all Palestinian lands... then we
recognise Israel by whatever name it applies to itself in accordance
with international law," he said, without elaborating.

"We are awaiting a response from Tel Aviv and Washington," he added.

When asked about Abed Rabbo's comments, senior Israeli cabinet
minister Silvan Shalom said it was "unacceptable to return to the lines
of June 1967."

"There is a very large consensus in Israel on this point," Shalom told public radio.

Israel has refused to withdraw completely from the occupied
territories, insisting it will hang on to major settlement blocs as part
of a land exchange and maintain a security presence in the Jordan
Valley.

The Palestinians recognised Israel in the early 1990s but have
adamantly refused to recognise it as a Jewish state for fear that doing
so would prejudge the fate of Palestinian refugees from the 1948
Arab-Israeli war.

They also note that Arabs make up around 20 percent of Israel's population.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley invited both
sides to make proposals on how to revive the moribund talks, which were
relaunched on September 2.

"If Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, who has offered his
thoughts on both what hes willing to contribute to the process, what he
thinks he needs for his people out of the process, we would hope that
the Palestinians would do the same thing," he told reporters.

"And through this ongoing dialogue (we) will gain the commitment on both sides to continue and to resume in these negotiations."

Netanyahu's proposal was criticised in Israel on Tuesday, with the
left-leaning Haaretz calling it a "major diversionary ploy" and the
mass-selling Yediot Aharonot accusing him of trying to "torpedo" the
talks.

The direct negotiations ground to a halt on September 26 after the
expiry of a 10-month moratorium on the construction of new settler homes
in the West Bank.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has refused to hold further
negotiations while settlement construction continues and last week Arab
League foreign ministers gave US negotiators a month to resolve the
impasse.

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