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The BBC's Paul Adams
"The Palestinian side is talking of a new crisis"
 real 28k

Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 18:12 GMT
Mid-East deadline 'impossible to meet'

Ehud Barak Parting of the ways for Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat


Hopes of Israel and the Palestinians meeting a deadline for a framework deal on a Middle East peace accord have been dashed after the break-up of summit talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's spokesman said both sides believed the 13 February deadline was now impossible to meet.

Middle East
Gadi Baltiansky said: "There is a kind of mutual understanding that by 13 February there will be no detailed framework agreement."

It had been hoped that both sides would have made significant progress in 10 days' time, opening the way for further talks in Washington.

Similar negotiations in 1978 at Camp David led to the breakthrough agreement between Israel and Egypt.

But Israeli Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon said a Camp David-style session was not realistic.

He told Israel radio: "With the current situation, going to a summit in the United States when the gaps are still so wide is not the correct thing to do."

The news follows the break up of a summit meeting on Thursday between Mr Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after just two hours over a disagreement on Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank.

Talks 'crisis'

Israel had announced that it would carry out the next interim withdrawal from 6.1% of the West Bank next week, three weeks after the date originally stipulated.

But the Palestinians were unhappy with the land being offered by Israel.

They wanted the populous West Bank suburbs of Jerusalem, but the land being offered by Israel apparently does not contain these areas.


Yasser Arafat Yasser Arafat: Unhappy with land deal
A joint news conference set for after the summit was cancelled, as Palestinians talked of a crisis in the talks.

Palestinian chief negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo said after the meeting at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza: "The meeting led to a crisis, not to an agreement.

"Israel wants to determine the withdrawal unilaterally ... for this reason we did not reach an agreement."

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said the talks should resume on Sunday as planned.

"We are not severing contact and will carry out the agreement and the withdrawal just as we committed to do."

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have set a date of 13 September to come to a final peace agreement on all outstanding issues between them, including the thorny questions of Jerusalem and any future Palestinian state.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said in a statement on Thursday that Palestinians would declare an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital by September.

"All necessary steps must be taken to realise this goal," it said.


On the agenda
West Bank troop withdrawals
Final borders
Palestinian refugees
Status of Jerusalem

Mr Arafat's aide Tayeb Abdel Rahim on Wednesday dismissed Israel's proposal for a final border as "nonsense".

Israel's proposal would leave Israel with territory captured in the 1967 Middle East War, but the Palestinians insist that Israel withdraw from all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

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See also:
31 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Analysis: Solving the Jerusalem problem
31 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Israel hints at Jerusalem compromise
30 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Mid-East peace efforts stepped up
31 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Arafat plea to save peace process

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