February 16, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed Wednesday his leadership will never give up the Armenian area in East Jerusalem under any peace deal with Israel.

"The Armenian Quarter is an undividable part of East Jerusalem, which is the capital of the (future) independent Palestinian state, " Abbas said during a meeting with Christian leaders at his office in Ramallah.

The leaked documents published last month by Al-Jazeera satellite channel showed that Palestinian negotiators were ready to abandon the Armenian Quarter and the Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem's Old City as part of a peace settlement with Israel.

The Armenian Quarter covers about one-sixth of the area of the Old City, with an Armenian population of more than 2,500. There are also Armenian churches, monasteries, schools, restaurants and a museum in the area.

The Palestinian National Authority strongly denied the content of the documents Al-Jazeera published. The Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat resigned Saturday, saying the documents were leaked from his office.

Meanwhile, Abbas said the PNA will further support all projects that "preserve the Christian presence in Palestine," noting that the PNA and other "friendly" countries would sponsor a project to renovate Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stopped in September 2010, when Israel resumed building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.


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