Barak, Security Cabinet to Discuss Clinton Peace Plan on Wednesday
Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak is due to convene his security cabinet on Wednesday to prepare a response to US President Bill Clinton's plan for peace with the Palestinians, public radio reported Tuesday.
Clinton, keen to strike a long-term accord before he leaves office on January 20, has given the two sides until Wednesday to deliver their verdict on his proposed solutions on some of the thorniest issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Barak, who is counting on a peace deal that may be his only chance of winning a February election for prime minister, said Monday he would agree to the compromise proposals but was awaiting the response of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Arafat said, however, that there were still "many obstacles."
The radio also reported that Barak was due to visit Israel's peace partners, Jordan and Egypt, on Wednesday to press their leaders to try to persuade Arafat to accept the Clinton plan.
Officials from Barak's office could not be immediately contacted for comment.
Israeli radio also said that the accord being discussed was in fact a "declaration of principles" which would pave the way for a further few months of negotiations before taking effect on the ground.
Clinton's proposals reportedly involve Israel turning over control of Arab neighborhoods in occupied east Jerusalem to the Palestinians along with the al-Aqsa mosque compound, or Haram al-Sharif, known to Jews as Temple Mount.
However, the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, would remain under Israeli sovereignty.
In return, Palestinians would waive the right of return for some 3.7 million refugees, with only a small number allowed back to Israel for family reunification, the reports say.
In addition, Israel would withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, territories the Jewish state has occupied along with east Jerusalem since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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