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Olmert, Arabs Negotiating Over Temple Mount

Arabs reportedly demanding complete sovereignty over Temple Mount compound. Peres behind plan for withdrawal from nearly all of Judea and Samaria.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/20/2007, 9:03 AM

Arab representatives who are negotiating an agreement with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office have made it clear that they will not accept any final peace deal with Israel unless the Jewish State forfeits the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.

According to a report in the daily newspaper Yediot Acharonot, Olmert is willing to discuss joint Israeli-Arab control over the Temple Mount compound.

A chief Arab negotiator told WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein that "there can be no agreement with Israel unless we get complete sovereignty of the Mount. Once Palestinian control over the [Temple Mount] is fixed, then we will make assurances for Jewish visits to the site."

The chief negotiator said aides from Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization have been working out the details of a "final status" agreement, which they intend to present in November at a U.S.-sponsored international summit on the Middle East.
'Once Palestinian control over the [Temple Mount] is fixed, then we will make assurances for Jewish visits'

Besides the Temple Mount, other issues on the table reportedly include the division of united Jerusalem and permanent borders between Israel and the PA.

With a year and a half left in office, US President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been urging Abbas and Olmert to meet regularly in the hope of creating a dynamic that will lead to a breakthrough at November's conference.

Asked whether Olmert is willing to forfeit the Temple Mount in an agreement with the Palestinians, David Baker, a spokesman for the prime minister, had no comment.

'Secret' plan would give Judea and Samaria to Arabs

Last week saw the publication of reports that newly-installed President Shimon Peres has quietly drafted a plan for the Jewish State to evacuate and transfer to the PA nearly the entire area of Judea and Samaria, along with several Arab-Israeli cities located within pre-1967 Israel.

Peres presented his initiative to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and to top Abbas aides soon after he took office as President last month.

Olmert is said to be considering the plan and he "agrees with much of its contents," diplomatic sources said.

President Peres, Israel's most veteran politician, has a long history of covert deal-making. His arch-rival in the Labor party, former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, famously called Peres "an indefatigable subversive" in his autobiography. Peres received the Nobel Prize for a deal he and others worked out with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat in 1993 – the Oslo Accords – which led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and an ongoing terror war in which thousands of Israelis, including a high proportion of women and children, have been killed or maimed.