Palestinians: Clinton\'s Plan Includes International Force for Territories
US President Bill Clinton's peace plan contains proposals for a mechanism to guarantee any Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, including the deployment of international forces, Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo said Sunday. Quoted by AFP.
Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians would "study carefully" the ideas put forward by Clinton during talks in Washington aimed at hammering out a peace deal and ending almost three months of deadly Israeli-Palestinian unrest.
"These proposals are aimed at bridging the gaps between the two sides and addressing all the issues in a way to reach a formula for a final agreement," Abed Rabbo told a press conference in Ramallah.
"These proposals include ideas regarding guarantees to implement the agreement once we reach such an agreement ... including the deployment of international forces," he said.
The Palestinians have long been pushing for an international observer force to protect them from Israeli "aggressions" during the 12-week Intifada or uprising that has so far killed more than 350 people, most of them Palestinians.
However, the UN Security Council last week rejected a resolution calling for such a force in the occupied territories.
Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian leadership would devote all its time to the Clinton proposals and hoped to give a response by Wednesday or Thursday.
"There might be some positive elements in these proposals," Abed Rabbo said.
"However, we will study them very carefully because we are talking about issues that would deal with an agreement regarding the future and the destiny of the Palestinian areas and the Palestinian people for generations to come."
ARAFAT, BARAK TO RESPOND TO CLINTON'S PROPOSALS BY WEDNESDAY
After five days of inconclusive Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat are to respond by Wednesday to bridging ideas proposed by President Clinton, reported Haaretz newspaper.
If Barak and Arafat agree to Clinton's proposals as a basis for continuing the peace negotiations, they will be invited to Washington next weekend for separate meetings with the outgoing president, the paper said, quoting Israeli officials as saying.
If those meetings go well, the two sides could agree to another summit. This would hammer out an agreement that would be initialed before Clinton leaves office, said the sources.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Saturday ended the talks without bridging a gap on key issues preventing the two sides from reaching a final Middle East peace deal, said AFP.
After a half-hour White House meeting with Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said "major gaps still exist" on Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, security, and territorial issues, according to the agency.
"Inevitably, differences remain,” said Ben Ami, who characterized the talks as "very encouraging" and said both sides would brief their leaders in view of possible future meetings with the US leader, whose term ends January 20.
Ben Ami said Clinton had provided ideas both on how to reach agreement and how to resolve specific issues, but declined to give details, added AFP.
"The president is determined to reach an agreement ... he is prepared to do whatever he can," before leaving office, a US official said.
Erakat stressed: "We would love very much to see an agreement completed during President Clinton's presidency, that's what we're here for."
According to Haaretz, Clinton's proposal includes the following:
* Jerusalem - The city will be divided along the principle of "Arab sections to the Arabs, Jewish sections to the Jews." The Palestinians will get the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and the Arab quarter of the Old City, including the Temple Mount (Al-Haram Al-Sharif). Israel will get the Jewish neighborhoods and the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City, including the Western Wall.
* Refugees - A special apparatus will be set up to deal with this issue and will determine criteria for the return of refugees, for their absorption in another area, and compensation. Most of the refugees will be settled in the country where they now reside, some will be absorbed in the Palestinian Authority areas, and only a small number will be allowed to return to pre-1967 Israel. Effectively, Clinton accepted Israel's position on this issue.
* State and land - A Palestinian state will be established on 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. The remaining 5 percent of territory will be in areas with settlement blocs. Certain settlements will be evacuated, first and foremost those in the Gaza Strip -- Albawaba.com
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