Ramallah: The Palestinians have agreed to give up a total of 2 per cent of the West Bank in land swaps with Israel, but Israelis demand 6-9 per cent of the West Bank excluding the occupied East Jerusalem. Speaking to Gulf News, Tayseer Khaled, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said that the idea of the land swap is an extremely controversial issue from the Palestinian perspective.

“Many factions and political parties within the Palestinian political spectrum strictly oppose this offer,” he said. However, landswaps should not be discussed until a comprehensive agreement between the two sides is reached first, he said.

“Addressing the idea of the land swap makes it more possible for Israeli colonies to remain the way they are. This is a major negotiating mistake committed by the Palestinians,” he said.

Khaled explained that during the last Amman meeting, the Israeli response to the Palestinian proposal on the borders and security arrangements was that discussion over borders of a future Palestinian state should be postponed until all the other issues including Jerusalem, water, and even border crossings are completely resolved.

“The Israeli response has tackled all the core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with a postponement to the issue of the borders,” he said.

“The Palestinian negotiators should have withdrawn and walked away from such useless meetings,” he stressed.

However, Khaled welcomed an official EU document which criticized Israel’s policies in the West Bank and announced that the EU will pursue infrastructural projects for the Palestinian communities in the Zone C even without Israeli cooperation.

“This is a fair, positive, and constructive position for the EU and the Palestinian leadership warmly welcomes it,” he said.

Khaled added that the Palestinians, the Mideast Quartet, the donors and the EU should not adhere to the Israeli policies in the Zone C which constitutes 62 per cent of the West Bank size and falls entirely under full Israeli control, where the Palestinians are not allowed to conduct any kind of projects in it.

“It is time for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to conduct many projects in the areas of the Zone C and to chase Israel for any reaction it commits against the PNA,” he said.

“We should not listen to Israel and stick to its policies in the Zone C which the PNA should immediately announce as first class developing areas which enjoy the highest priority,” he said.

“We are then ready to wage a popular and political confrontation against Israel. We will take the issue of the Zone C areas to the UN and the international community,” he said.

“We hope that the scheduled visit of King Abdullah II of Jordan to the US on Tuesday will play a role in clarifying the Palestinian position,” he said. “We also hope that the visit will reduce the US pressure on the Palestinian leadership,” he added.