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Palestinians say ready for direct talks with Israel

A Palestinian Authority text sent to the international peacemaking Quartet and seen Monday by AFP, says the Palestinians are 'ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped,' in 2014.

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh (C), clad in mask due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, leaves following a meeting with members of his government and officials of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the Jordan Valley village of Fasayil in the occupied West Bank on 24 June 2020, to discuss Israel's West Bank annexation plans. Picture: AFP

RAMALLAH - The Palestinians are prepared to renew long-stalled peace talks with Israel and to agree to "minor" territorial concessions, according to a counter-proposal to a contentious US plan.

A Palestinian Authority text sent to the international peacemaking Quartet and seen Monday by AFP, says the Palestinians are "ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped," in 2014.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on 9 June that the PA had drafted a response to the US proposal but did not previously mention direct talks with the Israelis.

Israel's coalition government has set 1 July as the date from which it could initiate action on US President Donald Trump's Middle East controversial peace proposals.

The Trump plan paves the way for Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jewish settlements considered illegal under international law.

The PA said the counter-proposal would be withdrawn if Israel went ahead with annexation "of any part of the Palestinian territory".

"No one has as much interest as the Palestinians in reaching a peace agreement and no one has as much to lose as the Palestinians in the absence of peace," said the four-page letter to the Quartet of the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union.

"We are ready to have our state with a limited number of weapons and a powerful police force to uphold law and order," it said, adding that it would accept an international force such as NATO, mandated by the UN, to monitor compliance with any eventual peace treaty.

The text also proposes "minor border changes that will have been mutually agreed, based on the borders of June 4, 1967", when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank.

Announced at the end of January in Washington, the Trump plan also envisions the annexation by Israel of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

More than 450,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements deemed illegal under international law, alongside 2.8 million Palestinians.

Washington's proposals provide for the creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory and without the Palestinians' core demand of a capital in east Jerusalem.

The plan had previously been rejected in its entirety by the Palestinians.

The European Union opposes it and is demanding that Israel abandon its annexation ambitions.

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