Clinton Appeals for Israel, Palestinians to Move beyond Blame
US President Bill Clinton on Monday appealed for Israel and the Palestinians to abandon the mistrust and accusations that have marked the past two weeks of escalating violence in the region and poisoned the peace process.
The visibly tired president said the two sides had to "move beyond blame" as he addressed the opening of an emergency summit at this Red Sea resort hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and attended by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Jordan's King Abdullah II.
"Once again, we have a situation piled high with grievance," Clinton said, referring to the deadly clashes that have wracked Israel, the West Bank and Gaza since late September, shattering progress made over the past seven years in ending more than 50 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"We have got to move beyond blame," said the somber Clinton, restating Washington's desire "to achieve agreement on an objective and fair fact-finding process on what happened to bring us to this sad point and how can we avoid having it ever happening again."
Flanked by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and his special Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross, Clinton called on Arafat and Barak to look to the future and the promise of what an end to hostilities would mean.
"We have got to focus on what we're going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next day," he said.
"We have to have a balanced mutual disengagement and we have to restore the security cooperation and have the confidence building measures necessary for people to go about their business and live in peace and begin to rebuild the bonds of trust."
Clinton urged the summit participants, who also include UN chief Kofi Annan and top European diplomat Javier Solana, to remember the progress that had been made since Israel and the Palestinians affirmed their desire to seek peace in a 1993 agreement signed at the White House.
"The only other thing I want ask you all is just to remember before these terrible events how far we have come since September 19, 1993 when the Palestinians and the Israelis signed the agreement to find a peaceful future together and resolve their differences peacefully," he said.
"We shouldn't give it all up for what has happened in the last few weeks and what has happened in these last few weeks reminds us of the terrible alternative to continuing to live in peace and to continuing the peace process."
Escalating violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has taken the lives of more than 100 people, all but seven of them Palestinians, and injured more than 3,000, leading to widespread fears the clashes will spill over into the region and deal a final death blow to the peace process -- SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)