PA Stiffens Demands as Rice Flies to Region

PA chief negotiator warns of 'bad results' if 'core issues' not resolved before Annapolis. Iran's Khomeini calls summit 'a crafty plot.'

Gil Ronen,

Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).
Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).

The Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) said Saturday that the "core issues" of permanent borders, Jerusalem's status and refugees must be resolved before the diplomatic conference that is scheduled to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, in late November. Otherwise, Qurei warned U.S. diplomat David Welch, "The conference will lead to bad results."

The two men met Saturday at Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, in preparation for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival in Israel Sunday morning.

Qurei told journalists after meeting Welch that the negotiating teams which began working last week had still not resolved the core issues and added that the declaration to be made at the conference must be "detailed, sharp and clear regarding the permanent status questions."

Rice 'demanded clarifications' from Israel
The PA chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, also met Welch over the weekend and reportedly asked that the U.S. pressure Israel to freeze construction in the E-1 area in Jerusalem. According to AFP, Secretary Rice said that she has demanded clarifications on the matter from Israel's ambassador.

Ahmed Abdel Rachman, spokesman of Fatah and advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said in an intervi
Concessions are out of the question, the Fatah spokesman said, because the Palestinians have nothing to concede.
ew published Saturday that the PA has no intention of making any concessions at Annapolis. Concessions are out of the question, he said, because the Palestinians have nothing to concede. "We want eastern Jerusalem as it was before June fourth, 1967, without occupation and without settlements," he told the Saudi paper Ukaz. Israeli statements about keeping the Old City are "irresponsible," he said.

Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khomeini, Saturday called upon all Muslim states to boycott the Annapolis conference. Speaking before a large crowd in a televised speech, Khomeini asked: "If the Palestinians think the conference is a crafty plot, and are considering staying away, how can Muslim countries take part?"

He added that "in the name of achieving peace, the U.S. is trying to force its will on the Palestinians, and the purpose of the conference is to save the Zionist regime." All peace conferences held until now have only harmed the Palestinians, he added.