Conal Urquhart
The Guardian
October 11, 2007 - 2:41pm,,2188277,00.html

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, insisted yesterday that Israel must give up 2,400 square miles of territory under its control for a Palestinian state, as he set out his demands before a US-sponsored peace conference next month.

The area is the sum of territory of the West Bank and Gaza which Israel conquered in 1967, and which the Palestine Liberation Organisation has argued should be set aside for a Palestinian state.

In a television interview, Mr Abbas said Palestinians wanted to establish a state on 6,205 sq km (2,400 sq miles) of the West Bank and Gaza. It was the first time he had spelt out exactly how much land he was seeking. "We have 6,205 sq km in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We want it as it is," he said.

Mr Abbas said his claim was backed by UN resolutions. "This is our vision for the Palestinian independent state with full sovereignty on its borders, water and resources," he said.

The president often points out that the 2,400 sq miles relates to 22% of the British-controlled Palestine from which Israel emerged in 1948. The Palestinians, he says, have already given up 78% to Israel.

No date has been set for the Annapolis conference as negotiators try to work out common ground, but it is expected to take place before December.

There are many differences to bridge. Since 1967 Israel has invested billions in settling the West Bank and it hopes to retain most of its settlements, while the Palestinians want them all dismantled. One proposal is that Israel should offer the Palestinians a land swap for the areas they want to keep, but critics point out that an acre of east Jerusalem is not equivalent to an acre of desert.


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