PMO Seeks Copy of 1995 Abbas-Beilin Peace Paper

Haaretz learned yesterday that the Prime Minister's Bureau requested a copy of a 1995 paper formulated during secret meetings between Yossi Beilin and Mahmoud Abbas. The document addressed a possible framework for permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Officials asked Beilin for a copy, possibly because Olmert and his aides want to learn about the issues on which Abbas expressed agreement in the past and make use of that knowledge in the current effort.

The Abbas-Beilin document resulted from secret talks between Beilin, who was deputy Foreign Minister at the time, and Abbas, who was Yasser Arafat's deputy at the PLO.

The talks between the two were held in parallel with official negotiations on an interim agreement, known as Oslo B. These talks concluded four days prior to the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Abbas-Beilin document was the first effort by officials from the two sides to reach a framework for a lasting peace agreement. Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who succeeded the assassinated Rabin, rejected Beilin's proposal to use the document as a springboard to a conclusion on the settlement issue.

The document was not signed - and Abbas denied its existence until several years later when he told a senior American official of his support for the paper.

In their 1995 discussions, Abbas and Beilin agreed that all settlements would be allowed to stay inside a Palestinian state but would not be described as communities in which only Jews lived. For their part, the settlers were expected to retain their Israeli citizenship.

Under such an agreement, Israel would avoid having to forcefully evacuate settlements from the West Bank as it had to do in the case of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

The document also asserts that the Palestinian refugees would manifest their right of return in a Palestinian state. With regard to Jerusalem, the document proposes an administrative division of the city, and postpones a decision on the issue of sovereignty. According to the agreement, the city's mayor would be Jewish.