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The BBC's Paul Adams
"All week the talk has been about Jerusalem"
 real 28k

Michael Melchior, Israeli Minister
"A most generous proposal"
 real 28k

Edward Abington, Advisor to Palestinians
"Both side are looking for arrangements to break this deadlock"
 real 28k

Mustaf Barghouthi,Palestinian Research & Policy Inst
"It's now time for Israel to make a concession"
 real 28k

Saturday, 22 July, 2000, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
No deal in sight on Jerusalem
Map of Jerusalem
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are divided over a new proposal on the future status of Jerusalem that has emerged at the Middle East peace talks near Washington.

As the summit adjourned for the Jewish sabbath, Israeli cabinet minister Michael Melchior said Prime Minister Ehud Barak had accepted the US proposal to give the Palestinians administrative control over parts of East Jerusalem with, as he put it, some symbols of sovereignty.

What's being spoken of is a proposal that is definitely within the red line of the prime minister

Michael Melchior, Israeli cabinet minister
But the Palestinian envoy in Washington, Hassan Abdel-Rahman, said that any limitation on Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem would be unacceptable.

Negotiations have continued for 11 days in an effort to settle all the major issues at the core of the 52-year-old conflict.

US President Bill Clinton is due to return to the Camp David talks on Sunday, leaving the G8 summit in Japan immediately after a final statement is issued.

He is expected to leave Okinawa at about midday local time (0300 GMT) on Sunday.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been presiding over the talks in Mr Clinton's absence.

The Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem, which is home to 200,000 Arabs as well as Al-Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest shrine in Islam - the capital of the state they intend to declare in September.

"Without full sovereignty, there will be no deal," Mr Abdel-Rahman said after the Israeli announcement on Friday.

Campaign promises

Israel, which captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, insists that the city will remain its "eternal and undivided" capital.

Barak's 'red lines'
Jerusalem to be a united city under Israel's sovereignty
Israel will never return to pre-1967 borders
Most Jewish settlers to be able to remain in West Bank
No right of return for Palestinian refugees
No foreign army west of the Jordan River
Mr Melchior, who has been part of Mr Barak's public relations team during the summit, said the proposal did not break the prime minister's campaign promises to protect Jerusalem's unity.

Officials say the status of the Old City, home to sites sacred to all three major religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - would be resolved at a later date.

Ehud Barak
Some Israelis fear Mr Barak will compromise his election pledge
But the Israeli cabinet minister suggested that the Palestinians might be allowed certain symbols of sovereignty over parts of the city under their control, such as the Shoufat neighbourhood.

Under the proposal, Israel would annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem, including the largest settlement, Maale Adumim.

This is the first time that Israel has broken the news blackout at the talks to state publicly its position on Jerusalem.

Mixed reactions

Correspondents say that, by publicising the offer, they are trying to put pressure on the Palestinians while at the same time reassuring opinion at home that greater concessions have not been made.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has not commented on the proposal.

Al-Aqsa Mosque
Jerusalem is home to The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque
In Israel, the announcement has been met with mixed reactions.

The Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, said if Israeli negotiators were prepared to discuss the US proposal, it would be a "flagrant, unequivocal violation" of Mr Barak's election promise.

By contrast, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, of Mr Barak's One Israel faction, defended the ceding of annexed Arab villages where he said no Israeli ever sets foot.

"If after 52 years, there is a chance to receive recognition once and for all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that will include not only the west of the city but also the [Jewish settlements including Maale Adumim], we definitely don't need these villages," he told army radio.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Middle East
Accusations fly over Mid-East deadlock
21 Jul 00 | Middle East
Tricks and traps on road to peace
22 Jul 00 | Middle East
New ball game at Camp David
20 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: A faltering peace
20 Jul 00 | Media reports
Press mulls 'Jerusalem Syndrome'
18 Jul 00 | Middle East
Adversaries fail to bond
18 Jul 00 | Middle East
Refugees: No place like home
19 Jul 00 | Middle East
Jerusalem: Difficult divisions
17 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Paying for peace
31 Jan 00 | Middle East
Jerusalem: Eternal, intractable
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