PA Demands Kotel as Failed Taba Accords Revived

Israel and the PA have agreed to take a second look at the principles discussed during the Jan., 2001 Taba Summit between then-PM Barak and Arafat.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to take a second look at the principles discussed during the January 2001 Taba Summit between then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then-Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this week that he has accepted the principles reached during the negotiations but that had not been formalized in a final document, as a basis for current negotiations, according to an unnamed PA official quoted by the Maariv newspaper.

The source said that the PA has also agreed to the same principles as a basis for talks but has not formulated that in a formal manner.

“The problem is that Olmert has internal opposition from Barak,” said the source referring to the former PM who recently returned to politics and became Defense Minister.

“The gaps between Olmert and Abu Mazen are not large,” he said. “In one-on-one talks with Abu Mazen, Olmert has already agreed to Taba but he has not announced this formally.” He predicted that an agreement of principles would be reached by the time of the Mideast summit scheduled for November 26 in Annapolis, Maryland.

PA “Accepts”, but Demands Jews Throw on ‘Kotel’
PA negotiator Adnan Husseini, a senior advisor the PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA now accepts the Taba agreement that Arafat turned down six years ago, according to Voice of Israel government radio.

However, he rejected Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall as well as the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Givat Ze’ev and Ma’aleh Adumim.

Husseini said Thursday night that the Western Wall “is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control.” He also insisted that the entire Old City belongs to the Muslims.

Abbas earlier had agreed that a land swap would allow Israel to retain sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall in the Old City.

Summary of Taba Accords
The concessions by Israel in Taba six years ago included:
• Jerusalem would be designated as an open city, with Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and PA sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in the city. Each side would define their part of Jerusalem as its capital. The issue of the Temple Mount had not been resolved and the PA has now demanded the Western Wall as well.
• Israel agreed to withdrawal from Judea and Samaria over a 36-month period and withdrawal from the Jordan Valley over an additional 36-month period, to be replaced by an international force.  Arafat rejected these ideas.
• Israel proposed handing over blocs of land occupied by Arab residents, and retaining so-called “settlement blocs” within Judea and Samaria.. Arafat rejected this.
• Israel agreed to withdraw from 97 percent of its territory restored in the 1967 Six-Day War. Arafat rejected this too.
• Israel agreed to a limited so-called Right of Return, which would allow some 5,000 foreign Arab descendants of those who fled the country during the 1948 War of Independence. Barak proposed that the Arabs be allowed to immigrate (a) to Israel, (b) to Israeli swapped territory or (c) to the PA state. A second proposal offered to Arafat included (a) rehabilitation and relocation within the current Arab host country or (b) relocation to a third country. Arafat rejected these proposals.
• Both sides agreed to phase out the UNRWA agency that administered internationally-funded programs among the PA population, within five years.
• Both sides agreed the PA state would have sovereignty over its airspace.
• Both sides were willing to make a commitment to fight terror and cooperate on security issues.
• Both sides agreed to abide by United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and that the June 1967 lines would become the basis for permanent borders between Israel and the new PA state.