Wye Plantation Israeli demand threatened finished agreement
Palestine, Politics, 10/23/1998
The Pollard issue was seemingly going to blow up the whole deal that US President Bill Clinton has worked earnestly to reach between the Palestinian government and Israel, and that will be signed in Washington this afternoon.
Pollard, a former US navy officer, was arrested in 1986 for spying on behalf of Israel's Mossad. Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon had said he would not sign the deal if Pollard is not released and allowed to return to Israel on Netanyahu's plane.
In what some have seen as an Israeli ploy, after both the Israelis and Palestinians have indicated that an agreement has been reached between them, Israel reached "beyond" the Israeli-Palestinian agreement just before the signing ceremony, to pressure the United States through media leaks that stated that an agreement on Pollard's release was reached with the US, an issue that the US firmly denied. The US has always maintained that this is an internal issue for the Justice department to deal with.
This has delayed the signing of the agreement and succeeded in putting pressure on the US to deal with this issue as Israel has wanted to have Pollard freed, through the many previous requests by the Israeli prime minister to the US president. Israel, who had denied previously that Pollard was a spy, reversed itself, officially admitted recently that he was a spy, and granted him Israeli citizenship.
But for the Palestinians back home what is reached in the Wye Plantation is a package deal, but not an agreement. Many still feel skeptical about the chances of Israel implementing the clauses of this package deal. Both the Palestinian government and Israel failed to reach an agreement on the scope of the withdrawal and as such have failed to bridge their deep differences on the issue.
Palestinian estimates spoke of an Israeli withdrawal from some 40 percent of the West Bank while Israel said the third phase redeployment will not cover more than one percent of the territories of the West Bank. The report on Pollard's release was first broadcast on Israel's radio. Immediately afterwards, US officials were reportedly angry at the early publication of the story which, suggested that the release was part of the package deal that President Clinton cut with Netanyahu in return for the latter's acceptance of the deal with the Palestinians.
Previous Israeli press reports from the Wye Plantation said that Pollard was expected to fly back to Israel on Netanyahu's plane but US officials later said that President Clinton notified Netanyahu that Pollard's arrest was not on the agenda. Clinton and Netanyahu later met tete-a-tete in what Israel radio said was the harshest meeting ever between the two leaders. But the Israelis by late this morning had agreed to let this issue go and sign the interim agreement.
Cabinet ministers and other officials in Israel were stunned by the statement the Jewish Settlements Council in the West Bank and Gaza Strip issued and said the deal Netanyahu was about to sign was an "act of treason." The only support that Netanyahu obtained from his own right wing camp came from a few members of his Cabinet who, interviewed on Israel radio, refused to go into details of what was reached yet admitted, like deputy defense minister Silvan Shalom, that Israel had given away a number of concessions to the Palestinians.
On top of those concessions, according to Israeli sources, was Israel's readiness to skip its earlier demands that the Palestine government extradite Palestinians wanted by Israel for anti-Jewish attacks. Besides, the Palestinian government reportedly accepted demands that 30 Palestinians listed by Israel as wanted be arrested and sent behind bars within the Palestinian-controlled areas, but the chief commander of the Palestinian Police Forces, General Ghazi Jabali, will remain unharmed. Jabali's name appears on top of Israel's list of wanted Palestinians for his alleged role in a number of attacks in which Palestinian policemen were allegedly involved. Palestinian sources said that President Arafat rejected a proposal to send Jabali to Moscow to serve as the Palestinian ambassador to Russia.
Labor Party officials argued that for them what matters is the peace deal with the Palestinians, and that is why they are ready to support Netanyahu but not for ever. Signs of the deal appeared late Thursday night when Netanyahu stated "a deal can be worked out" while he was meeting with American and Palestinian negotiators at the Wye Plantation. Netanyahu's statement came amid endless and persistent efforts by US President Bill Clinton who was earnestly determined to reach a package deal between the Palestinians and Israelis, and succeeded in doing so.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted in Israel Thursday night showed that 54 percent of Israelis supported their government to be stubborn and to insist on extradition of Palestinian prisoners while 35 percent said those Palestinians wanted by Israel should be judged and jailed in Palestinian government facilities. Also 54 percent of Israelis insisted that the Palestinian National Charter be revised by the National Council while 21 percent said the demand can be conceded and only 15 percent said they would be satisfied if the charter is revised by other Palestinian bodies.
Eighth day of Palestinian-Israeli talks focus on implementation
What does security mean to Palestinian Salim Shawamreh?
Only a comprehensive Palestinian - Israeli agreement will be accepted
Please add a link on your webiste pointing to ArabicNews.com and bookmark ArabicNews.com & subscribe to our daily email news bulletin.
| Advertise on ArabicNews.com. MyFlowers.com sold more than $2700 of flowers in one month advertising on ArabicNews.com! Make your company, and products a success. Special rate for new and small business. Inquire!Advertising Info