Palestinian warns of serious crisis, Israel unhappy with V.P. Gore
Palestine-Israel-USA, Politics, 4/24/1998
A major diplomatic crisis is hard to avoid if no progress is achieved on the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks track, warned Nabil Abu Rudeineh, special advisor to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Speaking on the eve of US Special Envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross' arrival in the region on Sunday, Abu Rudeineh said all peace efforts have come to a deadlock due to the intransigent policy of the Israeli government and to the attempts of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to push the peace process backward.
"The Palestinian stand is very clear," said Abu Rudeineh, "and Ross has nothing to look for at our side. We have declared our position and we have accepted all the US proposals, including the 13 percent scope of Israeli troop redeployment in the West Bank." Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinians have also accepted the US ideas on the industrial zone in Gaza and on the Gaza airport and harbor "though these ideas do not meet even the minimum of our demands."
He said the Palestinian government is doing its best to save the peace process in order not to be blamed for the total collapse of the peace efforts. "If Ross and the US Administration as a whole wanted to move forward and exert more pressure to save the stalled peace talks, then they should address the Israeli government where the intransigence is," said Abu Rudeineh.
Asked if President Arafat would participate in a four-way summit meeting in London next month with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Abu Rudeineh said there have not been any plans to hold such a meeting "though we are not opposed to the idea at all." "However," he said, "we would like to see Israel acceding to our demands and to the proposals of the US Administration in order for this summit meeting to be held in a constructive way." He said the Palestinian government is not interested "in yet another photo opportunity with Netanyahu but wants a real breakthrough to take place."
The upcoming two weeks are expected to be decisive with regard to the peace process, said Abu Rudeineh, who noted that Arab, European and US efforts are now directed towards achieving a genuine breakthrough that would get the peace talks off the ground. He insisted that written US guarantees are now needed for the Palestine in order to ensure that the Israeli government would not avoid the implementation of its commitments in the future.
Meanwhile, Israeli sources expressed anger at the fact that US Vice President Al Gore has refused to cancel a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian President Arafat on Tuesday. Gore will be visiting Israel on 30th April to attend celebrations of the 50th anniversary of its proclamation. His itinerary included a visit to Ramallah and a meeting with President Arafat. Officials in the Israeli foreign ministry who worked with US officials on the preparation for the trip said the planned meeting with Arafat surprised them. They tried to dissuade the Americans but to no avail, sources said.
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