Israelis, Palestinians agree on further land transfers
January 4, 2000
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel and the Palestinians broke a seven-week deadlock Tuesday, reaching agreement on the transfer of West Bank land from Israel, the chief Palestinian negotiator said.
"I hope we can sign the maps tonight, which will lead to implementation within 48 hours," said Saeb Erakat.
Erakat said he and Oded Eran, Erakat's Israeli counterpart, had struck a deal on transferring 5 percent of the West Bank now and another 6.1 percent on January 20, as scheduled.
The 5 percent transfer had been stalled because the Palestinians were dissatisfied with the land Israel was willing to hand over. The land Israel wanted to give up, they said, was remote, undeveloped and far from towns already under Palestinian control.
Erakat said the agreement on which land will be transferred is "satisfactory to both of us."
Under an interim peace accord reached in September, Israel was to carry out three partial troop pullbacks. An Israeli withdrawal from 7 percent of the West Bank in early September went off on schedule.
But on November 15, with Israel was set to hand over 2 percent to full Palestinian rule and 3 percent to shared control, the Palestinians raised their objections and halted the transfer.
Neither Erakat nor Eran would discuss how the deal was struck.
"I appreciate very much the efforts of my colleague, Dr. Erakat, to solve various issues," Eran said.
Another Israeli pullback is to be negotiated before the signing of a permanent peace between the two adversaries, scheduled for September.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report
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