Abbas: No agreement on land swap
Following reports saying Palestinians agree to leave four percent of West Bank in Israeli hands, president says there is no agreement on amount of land that will be swapped. On boycott of Israeli products made in West Bank he says, 'EU, Mideast Quartet also said settlements are illegal'
Addressing reports according to which he has agreed to give up four percent of the West Bank's territory in the framework of a peace deal with Israel, Abbas said, "We've agreed on the principle of exchanging territories based on reciprocity, but we have yet to reach an agreement on the actual land that will be swapped."
Abbas spoke in Ramallah Saturday after two rounds of indirect, US-mediated peace talks with Israel.
He said the first round dealt with borders and security arrangements between Israel and a Palestinian state, adding that Israel asked a series of questions the Palestinians are now preparing to answer.
Abbas also said the Palestinians have relayed answers to various questions posed by US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who is mediating the talks. "So far we cannot speak of progress or lack of progress in the talks. I hope there will be progress soon - within the next four months - which will allow us to resolve issues related to security and borders," the Palestinian president said during a meeting with the organizers of a campaign to boycott Israeli goods that are manufactured in the settlements.
Asked about reports that he is willing to trade more land than in the past, the Palestinian leader said that there is no agreement on the amount of land to be traded.
Israel wants to annex major Jewish settlements built on war-won land sought by the Palestinians.
On Friday the Wall Street Journal quoted sources involved in the negotiations as saying that the Palestinians are ready to consider increasing the territory which will be included in a territory exchange deal with Israel to four percent of the West Bank.
According to the report, Washington and Jerusalem officials have expressed their doubts over the surprising offer.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied that Abbas has agreed to leave four percent of the West Bank in Israel's hands.
Abbas also addressed the boycott of Israeli products, saying, "We cannot use products made in settlements that were built on our land. We are proud of the volunteers who are removing settlement products from Palestinian homes.
"We are not boycotting Israel because there are economic agreements between us. We are boycotting the settlements and I have issued an order banning the transfer of settlement products to Palestinian markets," he said.
"The European Union and the Mideast Quartet officially declared that the settlements are illegal, so there is nothing illegal in us boycotting goods that originate from places that have been defined as illegitimate."
AP contributed to the report