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Israel: U.N. land-for-peace resolution does not apply to West Bank,Gaza
July 1, 2000
JERUSALEM, (AP) - Israel's attorney general has ruled that U.N. Security Council resolutions stipulating Israel's withdrawal from war-won lands do not mean that Israel must give up all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, prompting angry Palestinian protests Friday.
Palestinian officials said the statement was a serious violation of the peace framework. They want to create a state in the three areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been conducted on the basis of U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which demand that Israel withdraw from areas it occupied in 1967.
Israel's attorney general, Elyakim Rubinstein, wrote Thursday that the resolution calls for "withdrawal from territories," not all territories.
He said the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's self-rule government, did not exist when Resolution 242 was approved in 1967, and that the Palestinians are not mentioned, except as refugees.
Rubinstein noted that there was never an international border between Israel and the West Bank. The return of all captured territory to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon does not set a precedent for the Palestinians, the attorney general said.
Denouncing Rubinstein's ruling, Nabil Abourdeneh, a top Arafat aide, said Israel was violating the peace framework. He said peace can only be achieved if Israel withdraws from all the lands it occupied in 1967.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have set a target date of Sept. 13 for completing a peace treaty, but both sides say the gaps are still wide. The issue of how much territory Israel would relinquish is just one of the issues. Others include the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat this week to determine whether to invite them to a summit meeting in Washington.
Cabinet minister Haim Ramon, who is close to Barak, said Friday that a summit meeting is the only way to make progress, though success is not guaranteed. Talks between the negotiating teams have "played themselves out," he told Israel radio.
Both sides have warned of violent confrontations if the talks break down. The Israeli military denied Palestinian claims that Israel is moving more troops and heavy weapons into the West Bank and Gaza.