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Thursday, October 22, 1998 Published at 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK


World: Middle East

Clinton pushes for quick deal

Palestinians demonstrate in support of those held in Israeli jails

Middle East
President Clinton has returned to the Middle East summit urging Israel and the Palestinians to "seize the opportunity" to agree an interim peace deal.


Stephen Sackur: "President Clinton says that today is the day to make tough decisions"
US officials have said the president is telling the two sides that he wants a deal by the end of Thursday.

Mr Clinton told reporters that following the near-collapse of the talks on Wednesday the hardest decisions were now on the table.


[ image: President Clinton: Wants a deal wrapped up]
President Clinton: Wants a deal wrapped up
As he left the White House for the talks in Maryland, Mr Clinton said he hoped neither side would "retreat from the clear moment to capture the momentum of peace and keep it moving forward."

The week-long negotiations have focused on American proposals for a phased Israeli withdrawal from a further 13% of the West Bank in exchange for extra Palestinian security measures.

'We are not suckers'


Paul Reynolds: US believes an agreement is within its grasp
The Israelis had threatened to go home on Wednesday unless they won more Palestinian concessions on security and other issues regarding control of the West Bank.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu mentioned two particular demands.

  • The extradition of Palestinian militants accused of killing Israelis
  • Amendments to the Palestine National Charter's provisions calling for Israel's destruction.

Tensions rose further when the Israeli side accused Washington of siding with the Palestinians on the issue of security.

Mr Netanyahu is quoted as saying at that point on Wednesday: "We're getting nothing. They are getting something. We are not suckers."

Issues on the table


[ image: Ahmed Tibi: No such thing as extradition]
Ahmed Tibi: No such thing as extradition
US officials said that Israel only agreed to stay at the talks after receiving further assurances on security.

This was confirmed by the Israeli spokesman, Aviv Bushinsky. "There was progress on security," he said.

Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Palestinian team, said that the issues of the Palestinian charter and the proposed Israeli withdrawal were the toughest issues left to resolve.


US State Department spokesman James Rubin: Progress has been made
But he said that the Israelis had dropped their insistence on bringing alleged Palestinian terrorists to Israel for trial.

"There's nothing in the Palestinian dictionary called extradition," he said. "We'll not extradite any Palestinians to Israel."

US prestige


[ image: Prime Minister Netanyahu: Back at the table]
Prime Minister Netanyahu: Back at the table
Washington Correspondent Stephen Sackur says the talks could now go on for several more days.

President Clinton has invested much time in the negotiations, and has put the full prestige of the White House and his foreign policy team behind the effort to break the deadlock.

His efforts have been supported by the presence of Jordan's King Hussein, who despite being seriously ill with cancer, has already spent seven hours at the talks.



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