Israelis, Palestinians, Return Home after Fruitless Talks

Published June 18th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Israeli and Palestinian delegations are returning home from Washington on Sunday after several days of talks last week that produced little progress, reported Haaretz.  

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is planning to make another visit to the region later this week to determine whether there is potential for progress on the final status issues if President Clinton invites Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat to a trilateral summit at the White House, said the paper. 

Egyptian foreign minister Amr Moussa was quoted as saying Saturday that "Egypt does not believe that the time is ripe for such a White House summit." 

Speaking to reporters after a meeting between Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Moussa said "We won't agree to a summit meeting that has no goal or a meeting intended to pressure the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. This summit meeting should only be held when there is progress." 

US mediator Dennis Ross will travel to the area to join the talks between the Palestinians and Israelis when they resume this week, said the paper.  

Clinton has indicated that the two sides will need to narrow their differences to some degree before he would convene a summit meeting. 

Israeli and Palestinian sources have expressed pessimism over the prospects of quick progress in the talks. 

The Israelis said that Arafat is unable to make the historic compromises required on issues like Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, while the Palestinians doubted whether Barak is able or willing to evacuate Jewish settlements in order to secure a deal, reported AFP. 

American sources said that before a full-fledged crisis erupts over the final status issues, Arafat will first try to gain as much as possible on the issues left over from the interim accords, including Israel's long-delayed third stage of withdrawal from the West Bank, said AFP. 

Meanwhile, Barak will convene the security cabinet this on Sunday to discuss the current round of negotiations with the Palestinians, said Haaretz. 

Barak is expected to tell the ministers that "the moment of truth is approaching" and that the talks have reached a critical stage, ahead of a possible summit between himself, Clinton and Arafat, added the paper. 

A political source was quoted as saying that "Israel is ready for a summit and for decisions." 

Barak has suggested the day after US Independence Day on July 4th as a possible date for a summit, but the American government is still wary, mainly because of the continued Palestinian objection, according to the paper - (Several Sources) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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