Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, a member of Israel's security cabinet and veteran of past peace talks, will not participate in the security meeting to be held in Cairo with Palestinian officials and CIA director George Tenet aimed at reducing violence in the territories.
"Shahak will not go to Cairo," said an Israeli government spokesperson.
The spokesperson explained Lipkin-Shahak, the former military chairman of the joint chiefs and current minister of transportation and tourism, has to stay in Jerusalem for government business.
Earlier, Lipkin-Shahak said on public radio that the Palestinians and Clinton agreed with Israel that the meeting "must take place so that the violence and attacks end."
But "if the intifada continues, this meeting doesn't make sense," he said.
The Israeli delegation should still include Shlomo Yanai, a high-ranking army official, and Avraham Dichter, the head of Israel's internal security force Shin Beth.
The Palestinian delegation to the meeting, whose location has been kept secret, will include Amin al-Handi, chairman of general Palestinian intelligence; Jibril Rajub, head of preventive security in the West Bank, and Dahlan, his Gaza Strip counterpart.
Dahlan told Voice of Palestine radio that after speaking with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he had decided to participate in the meeting.
According to Palestinian sources, Dahlan had considered boycotting the meeting to protest against Israel's decision to set up road blocks overnight between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian officials are also due to take part in the meeting.
Nearly 370 people, the vast majority Palestinians, have died since the Intifada, or uprising, broke out in the Palestinian territories in late September.
Since the 1998 Wye River accord, the CIA has been working to promote cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians on security issues.
Clinton had personally called for this meeting, following his meeting in Washington earlier this week with Arafat, who agreed to step up efforts to reduce violence "as much as possible" and to resume security cooperation with Israel.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Palestinian television Saturday that the meeting sought to put an end to "Israeli aggression, to the blockade of the Palestinian territories and to the assassinations of Palestinian officials, but not to the Intifada." -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)