High-Ranking Palestinian Official Denounces US Efforts for Peace Deal
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo on Saturday denounced last-ditch US attempts to broker a peace deal between his side and Israel, accusing US President Bill Clinton's administration of favoring Israel.
"This is an attempt to get concessions from us on our rights over Jerusalem and the mosque compound, on refugees' right of return and on our sovereignty over the territories" captured by Israel in 1967, Abed Rabbo told Al-Ayam, a daily close to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Abed Rabbo voiced particular resentment toward US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, who he said "was using the pretext of time being short to win a bonus for the Clinton administration."
He added: "We don't want an agreement that serves only the electoral needs of Ehud Barak," the Israeli prime minister who faces an uphill re-election battle against hardliner Ariel Sharon.
Abed Rabbo has been a leading critic within the Palestinian Authority of the Clinton peace push, calling the outgoing president's proposals a plot that will endanger the Palestinian "national destiny."
Clinton is hoping to clinch a peace deal before he leaves office January 20, and both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have accepted in principle a set of compromises he drafted.
But the two sides remain sharply divided over the status of holy sites in Jerusalem and the fate of 3.7 million Palestinian refugees and have expressed doubt about reaching an agreement in the next two weeks -- RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP)
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