Palestinian Security Forces Placed on Alert after Summit Failure
The Palestinian Authority has placed its police and security services "on a state of alert" following the failure of the Camp David summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, a Palestinian official told AFP.
The move was made ahead of the return Wednesday of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to the Gaza Strip.
"A state of alert has been decreed for the security services to be ready for all eventualities, following the failure of the Camp David summit and in view of the return early Wednesday afternoon of president Arafat," said the official, who requested anonymity.
Secretary of the Palestinian presidency, Tayeb Abdelrahim, said Arafat would receive a hero's welcome upon his return to Gaza. Cabinet officials said that crowds were expected in the streets in Gaza and that PLO's mainstream 'Fateh' faction would organize a welcoming ceremony.
However a Fateh source said that a call for a general strike, announced by Fateh before the talks failed, to put pressure on the Palestinian negotiations not to give ground, remained in place.
Meanwhile, Israeli police officials for their part said they were prepared for any incidents.
In the past such strikes have resulted in bloody clashed between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces.
Arafat was due to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria earlier Wednesday to brief him on the failed Camp David Middle East peace talks, an official told AFP.
US President Bill Clinton's bold Middle East peace gamble collapsed at Camp David near Washington on Tuesday, with Israelis and Palestinians blaming each other, but also pledging to avoid violence and to press on with efforts to reach broad agreement "as soon as possible".
In a trilateral statement, Israeli and Palestinian leaders committed themselves "to continue their efforts to conclude an agreement on all permanent-status issues as soon as possible".
They also agreed on "the importance of avoiding unilateral actions that prejudge the outcome of their negotiations" and to "undertake to create an environment for negotiations free from pressure, intimidation and threats of violence." - GAZA CITY (AFP)
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