U.S. Draft Agreement Omits Palestinian Right of Return, Officials Tell Haaretz

Officials add: Proposal makes no mention of Jerusalem being capital of future Palestinian state.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The United States has proposed absolving Israel of any responsibility for the fate of the Palestinian refugees in the forthcoming framework peace agreement, senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz over the weekend.

Instead, the draft framework agreement, which is due to be presented by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel and the Palestinians toward the end of the month, will propose a solution based on the naturalization of the refugees in the countries in which they currently reside, as well as financial compensation.

The American proposal to omit mention of the refugees' right of return from the document has outraged Palestinian officials.

Both the proposal regarding the refugees and the American proposal on Jerusalem fail to meet the minimum requirements of the Palestinian Authority and have been rejected, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.

On Jerusalem, the Americans have proposed wording that would "recognize the sensitivities and emotional attachment of the Palestinians to Jerusalem." The proposal was rejected by the Palestinians on the grounds that it makes no mention of the special status of Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.

The Palestinian concerns arose during recent meetings between the Palestinian and American negotiating teams.

Senior Palestinian Authority officials told Haaretz that the U.S. has not yet completed drawing up the final version of the framework agreement. Negotiations between the two sides, which were scheduled to resume this week, are likely be deferred due to Kerry's involvement in the Syrian peace conference, which opens in Geneva this week.

Any harm to the status of Jerusalem or of the Al-Aqsa Mosque would be a death blow to a future peace agreement, the Al-Quds Committee announced over the weekend during a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the meeting of the committee, which comprises representatives from all the Muslim countries.

The committee also announced that any Middle East peace agreement would need to include recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

The members of the committee denounced Israeli policy, which, they said, was aimed at creating facts on the ground, changing the demographic and geographic nature of East Jerusalem and harming the holy places. It called on the international community to intervene and prevent Israel from continuing to implement its policy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, West Bank, Jan. 4, 2014.Credit: AP

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