According to PLO executive committee member Tayseer Khaled, recent talks in Jordan revealed Israel wants to retain 6-9 per cent of Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem.
“Many factions and political parties within the Palestinian political spectrum strictly oppose this offer,” Khaled told Gulf News, adding that officials in Ramallah had taken the "controversial step" of tentatively agreeing to cede 2% of Judea and Samaria.
“Addressing the idea of the land swap makes it more possible for Israeli colonies to remain the way they are. This is a major negotiating mistake committed by the Palestinians,” he said.
Instead, Khaled insists, discussions of borders should be postponed until all core issues, including the status of Jerusalem, water and border crossings are completely settled.
“The Israeli response has tackled all the core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with a postponement to the issue of the borders,” he said.
“The Palestinian negotiators should have withdrawn and walked away from such useless meetings,” he stressed.
However, Khaled welcomed an official EU document which criticized Israel’s policies in Judea and Samaria and announced that the EU will pursue infrastructural projects in Area C without Israeli consent.
Area C, which comprises 62% of Judea and Samaria, remains under full Israeli administrative and security jurisdiction under the 1993 Oslo Accords. PA projects in those areas are expressly forbidden without Israeli cooperation.
“This is a fair, positive, and constructive position for the EU and the Palestinian leadership warmly welcomes it,” he said.
“It is time for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to conduct many projects in the areas of the Zone C and to chase Israel for any reaction it commits against the PNA,” he said.
“We should not listen to Israel and stick to its policies in the Zone C which the PNA should immediately announce as first class developing areas which enjoy the highest priority,” he said.
“We are then ready to wage a popular and political confrontation against Israel. We will take the issue of the Zone C areas to the UN and the international community,” he said.
Observers say Khaled's apparent endorsement of bilateral negotiations aimed at a comprehensive agreement with Israel is strange in light of his support of downgrading all ties with Israel in favor of the unilateral tack.
"We refuse to be security agents for Israel. This is neither the role of the PLO nor the Palestinian National Authority at all," he said on December 21st.
"The Jewish state is the only impediment to bilateral negotiations," he said. "The Palestinian leadership will not even consider the economic peace argument."
"We are discussing downgrading all our agreements with Israel," he added.
That same day PLO officials announced “a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."