Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi warned Tuesday not to expect miracles from the Middle East peace summit at Camp David and predicted that more meetings would be needed to strike a peace deal.
"Don't expect to see a miraculous breakthrough or sudden results," she told reporters.
"So far the gap is extremely wide," she added as US President Bill Clinton brought Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak together at his retreat 100 kilometers, northwest of the US capital.
"It will take a great deal to find areas of consensus, of convergence, where we can move ahead qualitatively in terms of the negotiations," Ashrawi said.
"I think it will take more than a summit, more than just eight days of talks, more than bringing people together and holding them hostages, and talk and talk and talk.
"It's going to be long, difficult, and probably involve more meetings afterwards, rolling negotiations.
Arafat's decision to declare a Palestinian state on September 13th regardless was "not a threat." She said it was "a very positive development and a constructive contribution to peace."
Israel has warned that it, too, can take unilateral measures such as annexations.
Ashrawi also attacked "extremist and hard-line and unilateral positions adopted by Israel, which are in many ways closing doors instead of opening doors."
In an even more pessimistic vein, she later told AFP, "The summit aims at preventing the collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
"I don't believe that there is enough strong potential to reach a final agreement from this summit because the positions are wide apart.
"Clinton will try all he can to push the two sides to an agreement, but at the same time he will not allow the failure of the summit and he will find a mechanism to keep things going." - WASHINGTON (AFP)
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