Palestinians Resist Israeli Call for US Summit
Palestinian officials said on Sunday an intensive US-Israeli-Palestinian summit was bound to fail unless progress was made first in talks on a final peace treaty, reported Reuters.
"Holding a summit without first reaching common ground on the crucial issues being negotiated poses a real political danger and paves the way for confrontations rather than a settlement," said senior Palestinian negotiator Hassan Asfour.
"The summit would fail and this would lead to explosions," he told Reuters.
US President Bill Clinton is sending Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the region on Tuesday to try to narrow gaps between Israel and the Palestinians as they struggle to conclude a framework accord for a final peace by September, said Reuters.
US special envoy, Dennis Ross, who arrived in Israel on Thursday, has held individual meetings with heads of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams.
Palestinian officials said Israel has been pressing them to agree to a secluded summit of the sort held at the US presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, in 1978.
The framework Camp David Accords led to the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement, Israel's first treaty with an Arab state.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in a cabinet statement on Sunday that the visits of Albright and Ross were aimed at helping the United States to formulate an assessment of whether a summit should be held, Reuters added.
Asfour said the Americans did not believe the time was right for a trilateral meeting, but that the Palestinians had found that some members of the US administration were beginning to respond to Israel's demand for a summit starting on July 5th, according to the agency.
Palestinian officials said Palestinian President Yasser Arafat did not want such a summit before Israel had promised in writing to implement UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which form the basis of the land-for-peace process.
"Until now they have not agreed to commit themselves to withdrawing to the June 1967 borders," a senior Palestinian official told Reuters, referring to the frontier before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war.
Meanwhile, Israeli embassy officials in Cairo said that justice minister, Yossi Beilin, would travel to Egypt later Sunday to deliver a message to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from Prime Minister Ehud Barak, reported AFP - (Several Sources)
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