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The BBC's Brian Barron
"He returned with nothing"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Arafat defiant after summit failure
Palestinians in Gaza City
Many Palestinians are jubilant that Arafat stood firm
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has returned to a hero's welcome in Gaza following the failure of the Middle East peace summit in the United States.

Speaking upon arrival at Gaza airport, a defiant Mr Arafat promised chanting supporters that Jerusalem would become the capital of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, said on his own return from the summit that he would not despair and he promised to continue the search for peace.

He repeated that the Palestinians had not been willing to compromise.

Security forces have braced for unrest in the aftermath of summit, but demonstrations have not resulted in violence so far.


We are ready to give our soul and our blood to our great hero

Arafat supporters
Correspondents say both Mr Arafat and Mr Barak face daunting challenges at home, although each will be praised by their own people for not compromising over Jerusalem.

Mr Barak has warned that the region is entering a "period of considerable uncertainty".

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza City on Wednesday, chanting praise for Mr Arafat's refusal to accept an Israeli proposal for limited Palestinian control over East Jerusalem.

Intifada

"Welcome Arafat - the hero of war and hero of peace," said one banner, while another read: "Jerusalem is in our eyes, tomorrow it will be in our hands".

Earlier, hundreds of Palestinians marched in the city demanding a resumption of their uprising or "intifada" against Israel. The Islamic militant group Hamas urged Mr Arafat to return to the armed struggle.

Map of Jerusalem
The Israeli prime minister narrowly survived a confidence vote in parliament on the eve of the Camp David summit.

An opinion poll published on Wednesday showed a majority of Israelis believed Mr Barak was ready to yield too much to the Palestinians.

According to the survey for Israeli army radio, 57% said Mr Barak had made too many concessions, while just 30% agreed with his proposals.

The opposition Likud leader, Ariel Sharon, demanded early elections, saying both sides had revealed their "true positions" at Camp David.

Bill Cinton
Bill Clinton: Differences will "eventually be bridged"
Mr Barak has already contacted some key political leaders in what is seen as an attempt to rebuild his shaky coalition.

He has accused Mr Arafat of being afraid to take the historic decisions needed for peace.

"It's possible to make a peace with our neighbours without violating our vital interests, but I emphasise that it takes two to tango. We cannot impose it upon them," he said.

Support for Arafat

Before returning to Gaza, Mr Arafat held talks in Egypt with his key ally, President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Arafat has won support across the Arab world for his refusal to compromise over Jerusalem.

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See also:

26 Jul 00 | Media reports
Barak disappointed but hopeful
26 Jul 00 | Media reports
Media post mortem on Camp David
26 Jul 00 | Media reports
Barak blames Arafat for talks failure
24 Jul 00 | Middle East
Compromise fears over Jerusalem
20 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: A faltering peace
17 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Paying for peace
26 Jul 00 | Middle East
Camp David: What went wrong?
26 Jul 00 | Middle East
What did Camp David achieve?
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