Kerry proposes return of 80,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel

Ramallah, Jan 7: US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the return of 80,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel, a well-informed Palestinian official said Monday.

Kerry’s proposal on the return of Palestinian refugees was part of his ideas presented to the Palestinian side to reach a framework peace agreement, Xinhua quoted a senior official of the Palestinian government as saying.

Kerry, who is visiting the region, had held talks Friday and Saturday with Abbas in Ramallah.

“Kerry’s proposal on the return of refugees is the same proposal offered by former US president Bill Clinton during Camp David peace talks held in the United States in 2000,” said the official.

He added that during their meetings, Abbas wants to increase the number of Palestinian refugees returning to Israel to 200,000, and the demand is still under discussion with Kerry.

As for the issue of Jerusalem, the official said, “Kerry’s recent ideas focus on handing over parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinian National Authority and that Jordan will have the jurisdiction on holy sites and places in the city.”

However, Israel still refuses to recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, and insists that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel, according to the official.

On the other hand, the Palestinian side opposes the proposal of recognising Israel as a Jewish state, the official said, adding that “gaps are still wide concerning the permanent status issues of the refugees, Jerusalem, borders, settlements and the Jewish state.”

IANS