Israelis, Palestinians Resume Contacts
Israel and the Palestinians resumed contacts Wednesday after a one-day break called by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said his spokesman, Gadi Baltiansky.
"Gilad Sher and Saeb Erakat have been meeting for two hours," Baltiansky told Israel's Channel 2 television
Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office declared Tuesday a "time-out" in the talks, accusing the Palestinians of failing to show the necessary will for progress in their efforts to end decades of conflict.
But only hours later, it announced that contacts would resume Wednesday between Israeli negotiator and lawyer Sher and Erakat, a top Palestinian negotiator.
Barak, meanwhile, accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of delaying the peace process, a day after Israel's confusing stop-start announcements about their talks.
"The situation after Camp David is that we still don't have Arafat's response regarding a willingness to discuss the ideas raised by (US) President (Bill) Clinton, and this is delaying the process," Barak told reporters after a meeting of the parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee.
"He has been delaying the negotiations in this way for a few weeks, and I believe that in the coming weeks we will know whether Arafat is ready or not to see in President Clinton's proposals ... a basis for discussions," he added.
During the Camp David summit, which collapsed almost two months ago, Clinton raised proposals to bridge the gaps on the future of the thorniest issues of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and final borders.
"If he (Arafat) will see in them a basis for discussion there will be negotiations, if he will not see them as a basis for discussions, I assume that there will not be any negotiation," said Barak.
Barak played down the series of conflicting statements issued by Israel Tuesday over the peace negotiations.
Israel cancelled a meeting between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Israeli negotiator Gilad and announced a "time out" in the talks, but in an embarrassing about-turn, Barak's office later said the two would meet Wednesday – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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