Wall Street Journal: Palestinians make surprisingly large land offer to Israel

Haaretz (Link) - Barak Ravid (May 21, 2010)

The Palestinian Authority has offered surprising concessions to Israel regarding borders for a future state, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

In the framework of proximity peace talks now being mediated by the United States� special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Palestinian negotiators have reportedly offered to match and even double the amount of West Bank land that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered to former prime minister Ehud Olmert during their one-on-one talks in 2008.

During those talks, Abbas offered Olmert to exchange 1.9% of West Bank land for an equal amount of Israeli territory. Olmert countered with a much higher demand of his own, which the current reported offer would still not come close to matching.

Palestinian officials told The Wall Street Journal that the unexpected proposal was being made due to their assumption that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not serious about reaching a final-status deal within the indirect negotiations.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said his government was approaching the proximity talks in good faith and �are not going to waste Mitchell�s time.�

�We want Mr. Mitchell to succeed because his success is our freedom,� he said.

But Erekat later denied the Journal�s report that they had offered extra concessions, according to Israel�s Channel 10 News.

Mitchell was in the region this week for talks with Abbas and Netanyahu. A statement from Netanyahu�s office said they had discussed during their meetings the possibility of gestures toward the Palestinians. No details were given, but the gestures seemed likely connected to easing movement for Palestinians in the West Bank.