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Egypt, Sharon Agree on Palestinian States, Disagree on Borders


Egypt has reaffirmed its strong support for a future Palestinian state on land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War, while a day earlier Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defined substantially more-limited future boundaries.

Egypt's intelligence chief addressed the Palestinian parliament in Gaza City on behalf of President Hosni Mubarak and re-affirmed Cairo's continued support for Palestinian statehood.

Omar Suleiman said Egypt supports the full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the West Bank and the land of 1967, which would also include East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan and the Palestinians want for their future capital.

In a television interview late Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said any future withdrawals would only come through negotiations and outlined future boundaries, far more limited than those of 1967.

Mr. Sharon conceded that Israel would not be able to hold onto all the settlements in the West Bank, but he was adamant that the large settlement blocks would remain in Israeli hands, territorially connected to Israel.

An Israeli official confirmed last week that the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank increased by nearly 13,000 during the past year to 246,000. Plus, another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed - in a move not internationally recognized.

The large settlement blocks include Ma'ale Adumim and Gush Etzion, near Jerusalem, and Ariel, near Tel Aviv. Mr. Sharon has repeatedly said these are not negotiable and he has cited the support of the Bush administration for that position.

President Bush has said that a final Israeli-Palestinian agreement would have to recognize, what he termed, "new realities" on the ground. But, senior American officials have also said the administration's position remains that future borders must be negotiated and agreed upon by the Israelis and the Palestinians as stipulated in the internationally-backed Roadmap peace plan.

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