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Palestinian negotiator sees Jerusalem as 'capital of 2 states'
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has authorized negotiations "24 hours a day" over the next six weeks in an attempt to reach a peace agreement with the Israelis, the Palestinians' chief negotiator said on Tuesday.
Arafat told a Saudi newspaper that he still intended to declare a Palestinian state on September 13, but negotiator Saeb Erakat said Arafat "would like nothing better" than for that declaration to be part of a peace agreement with the Israelis.
"It will be declared at the fixed time, which is September 13, God willing, regardless of those who agree or disagree," Arafat said in the Saudi Gazette.
Erakat, speaking on CNN, sounded a conciliatory note to the Israelis but again pushed the Palestinians' claim on Jerusalem -- the issue that scuttled the Camp David talks that ended last week.
"Both sides came a long way on all issues," Erakat said. "And I hope the Israeli side realizes now that Jerusalem must serve as the capital of the two states."
'Barak can deliver'
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital, while Israel has declared that Jerusalem will remain forever united under Israeli control. But Erakat said a solution was within reach.
"I believe it is doable, and can be done," Erakat said. "... Jerusalem must serve as an open city, the capital of the two states, and the center of peace in the region.
And, he said, "I don't see the day far away. I believe it is the realistic solution."
Erakat shrugged off votes on Monday in the Israeli Knesset in which Prime Minister Ehud Barak's candidate for president lost and Barak survived a no-confidence vote in his government.
Opposition leaders said the votes showed that Barak does not have the Knesset behind him in the peace negotiations, but Erakat said, "I believe Mr. Barak can deliver."
Barak's candidate for the largely ceremonial post of Israeli president, former prime minister and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres , had been expected to win the Knesset vote, but the legislators instead chose opposition party candidate Moshe Katsav .
After that vote, Barak survived the no-confidence vote, brought forward by Katsav's Likud Party.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Arafat rejects Clinton criticism, seeks European, Arab support
The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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