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Friday, October 23, 1998 Published at 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK

World: Middle East

Peace deal done

The marathon talks at Wye went on late into the night

Israelis and Palestinians have reached an interim peace agreement, the White House has said.

Middle East
A spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said Mr Clinton would announce details of the accord when he arrived back in Washington from Maryland.

He added that all parties were expected to join the president later in the day, but gave no details of a signing ceremony.

Richard Lister: Neither side has everything it wanted from deal
News of the agreement came after talks - which had already lasted eight days - went on through the night.

Progress was reported to have been made on several key issues including the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, amendments to the Palestinian charter - to drop references to the destruction of Israel - and security guarantees sought by Israel.

[ image: President Clinton: invested much time in the talks]
President Clinton: invested much time in the talks
The interim deal ends a 19-month log jam in the Middle East peace negotiations. However the two sides still have to make many tough decisions, such as over the future of Jerusalem, before a full deal can be agreed.

Israeli President Ezer Weizman, a frequent critic of the slow pace of peacemaking, called the accord "good for Israel and the majority of the country".

But Israeli right-wingers have blasted the peace deal as a "betrayal", saying it could lead to more bloodshed.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Jerusalem: "For the right wing, any transfer of territory is a large transfer"
The BBC Correspondent in Jerusalem, Jeremy Bowen, says the right wing has threatened to bring down the government and could impede the implementation of the agreement.

The militant Islamic movement, Hamas, has also denounced the accord and vowed to continue its attacks against Israeli targets.

Israeli government spokesman Moshe Fogel: "Real test of this agreement is in its implementation"
The Israeli Government spokesman, Moshe Fogel, said the real test to the agreement was its implementation, especially in the field of security.

"If it will bring more security to everyone involved, especially to the people of Israel, then he [Mr Netanyahu] is willing to take all the political risks _ connected to the signing of this agreement, " Mr Fogel said in a BBC interview.

"I think that if the Palestinians are able to show that they will be successful in fighting terror ... even in the right wing you will see support for this agreement," Mr Fogel said.

Palestinian representative Afif Safieh: "Tribute must be paid to the American administration"
The Palestinian representative to London, Afif Safieh, says the interim agreement will give back credibility to the faltering peace process.

"The tribute must be paid to the American administration, to the personal involvement of President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Without that contribution and input I do not think we would have succeeded in reaching a deal," Mr Safieh said.

Key elements of the deal

  • Under the agreement, Israeli troops would be withdrawn from another 13% of the West Bank, transferring control to the Palestinians.

  • A safe passage is also to be created for the free movement of Palestinians from the Gaza strip to parts of the West Bank.

  • Israel is also expected to begin the release of some 3,000 prisoners. Seven hundred are to be released in three stages.

  • The Palestinians, for their part, have agreed to take action against militant groups and to arrest 30 people accused by Israel of terrorism.

  • They have also agreed to convene a special meeting of the PLO central council to cancel clauses in its charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

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