Israel: Islamic Nations have not Constrained Arafat on Jerusalem
Israel voiced satisfaction Tuesday that Islamic nations had given Palestinian President Yasser Arafat a "free hand" to compromise over Jerusalem.
Members of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) committee of the Organization for the Islamic Conference, meeting in Agadir, Morocco, expressed strong support for Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem Monday but went no further.
"The final declaration of the Al-Quds committee has not tied chairman Arafat on the question of Jerusalem," the radio quoted a senior political source as saying.
"The delegates in Agadir left the ball in Arafat's court and decided not to try to resolve the issue in his place," the source added.
Israel and the United States had reportedly put on the pressure to prevent any "extremist" declarations from the OIC meeting.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has repeatedly called for Arafat to show more "flexibility" in peace talks, particularly on Jerusalem, after the collapse of their US-sponsored Camp David summit a month ago.
In their final declaration, the 14 Muslim states represented in Agadir said the committee was opposed to any limits on Palestinian sovereignty in the eastern sector of the city, which Israel occupied in 1967.
They also called upon the world to recognize a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital once it is established.
"The concluding statement did not employ threats or belligerent statements, probably due to American pressure," the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily said, adding that Syria, Iran and Iraq had wanted to "hobble" Arafat and prevent him from making concessions on Jerusalem.
Officials from Barak's office and the foreign ministry declined comment.
Meanwhile, Israel's acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami said during a visit to France on Monday that although they had made progress, they were not yet ready for a new peace summit as the difficulties were "still considerable."
"We are trying to articulate progress achieved at Camp David and create a platform and see how far we can go on the subjects of Jerusalem, refugees, settlements and the occupied territories," Ben Ami said.
"We hope to be in a situation where these issues can be negotiated in a summit, but we are not yet ready for a summit," he said - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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