Abed Rabbo: Barak-Arafat Summit Soon, but no Swift Peace Deal
A summit is expected soon between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, though it is "impossible" to reach an early peace deal, Palestine's information minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, was quoted by AFP as saying Sunday.
"We are expecting a summit between Arafat and Barak in the coming days which will help to bridge the gaps and to build a foundation to resume negotiations after the Israeli election," Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio.
But he added "it is impossible to reach an agreement in the next few days."
There has been speculation that Arafat and Barak could meet on Tuesday or Wednesday in Stockholm or in Davos, venue for the World Economic Forum, reported Haaretz newspaper.
A senior Israeli source told the daily that Barak will agree to meet with Arafat only if the results of the summit are conclusively arranged in advance.
"Meetings with Arafat in the past didn't exactly turn out as planned," the source said, adding "they haven't always yielded the results which were promised."
According to the paper, Israel's negotiators at the Taba marathon talks, foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, justice minister, Yossi Beilin and Barak's bureau chief, Gilad Sher, will recommend that Barak meet with Arafat.
Abed Rabbo was speaking the day after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators announced that they were closer than ever to reaching peace after six days of intensive negotiations in the Taba.
"We need to see on the ground a halt to Israeli aggression and the siege and the implementation of what was reached in Sharm el-Sheikh and to allow the inquiry committee to do its work," he added.
Abed Rabbo was referring to an international fact-finding committee set up at a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in October to look into the causes of the four-month wave of deadly Israeli Palestinian unrest, said the agency.
By the siege, he meant an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territories.
Abed Rabbo, who attended the Taba talks, said the Palestinians were insisting that negotiations with Israel were based on UN resolutions regarding occupied territory and Palestinian refugees.
"Palestinians want a comprehensive agreement to be immediately implemented under supervision of the UN," he said.
"We have not closed any file in negotiations -- even if there has been some progress in some files."
Arafat left Sunday for the Davos meeting, which is being attended by Israel's former prime minister, Shimon Peres.
Barak and Arafat have not met face-to-face since the start of the Palestinian Intifada or uprising in late September -- Albawaba.com
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