RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 29 (UPI) — Israeli President Shimon Peres has been holding secret talks with the Palestinians this week to head off a confrontation at the United Nations, diplomats said.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Peres, an architect, as foreign minister, of the 1993 Oslo accords, met with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Ramallah Tuesday. They pored over maps of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to identify land swaps that would allow a Palestinian state equivalent to pre-1967 Arab territory, sources told Haaretz.
A senior Palestinian source in Ramallah confirmed more than one meeting.
Peres was acting with the full approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Haaretz said, but neither of their offices would comment.
Speaking to Arab reporters from Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and neighboring countries, Peres called for renewed negotiations before the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood expected in September, which Israel is trying to head off.
“Such a political move will allow for a breakthrough and will transform September into a month of hope,” he said. “I have noted the Palestinian preference for an agreement instead of continuing the conflict in a U.N. resolution.”