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War of words begins as parties react to Mideast summit news
CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) -- Despite appeals from U.S. President Bill Clinton to Israelis and Palestinians not to finger-point, recriminations began just minutes after Clinton announced that the Mideast summit would continue while he is in Japan for four days attending the G8 talks in Okinawa.
Clinton said at a news conference early Thursday that the two parties had tried hard to resolve their differences over the most difficult issues. "The gaps remain substantial but there has been progress and we must all be prepared to go the extra mile," he said.
Hassan Abdel-Rahman, the Palestinian representative in Washington, said, "Israeli intransigence is behind the failure of this summit, as well as Israeli rejection of international laws which form the basis of the peace process."
He accused Barak, who lost his parliamentary majority on the eve of the summit, of "negotiating with the Israeli right-wing and not with the Palestinian delegation."
Thinking 'in territorial terms'
Ziad Abu Zayyad, a member of the Palestinian Council, told CNN from Jerusalem that Israel did not understand "how important and sensitive was the issue of Jerusalem to the Palestinians and they do not understand the historical importance of this opportunity to reach a historical compromise between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people.
"They are still thinking in territorial terms, in the mentality of occupiers who can dictate their positions on the other side. They do not see us as an equal partner involved with them in the process of trying to make peace."
Zayyad said it was a sad day because "we wanted peace, we are committed to peace and we want the other side to understand that the failure to make peace is an invitation for violence."
He said that if Israel insisted on keeping Jerusalem under their sovereignty it only invited the suicide bombers and extremists and fanatics to act against Israel "and then they will consider us responsible for that violence.
Decisions "crucial' for Mideast future
Gadi Batliansky, a spokesman for Barak, told CNN, "The decisions that can be taken here are crucial for the future of the Middle East. It is not a matter of a day or four days, it is a matter of decisions and we believe the Palestinians and their leadership should take the necessary decisions in order to try to reach a compromise that is so needed for both peoples."
Israeli parliament speaker Avraham Burg told Reuters: "The road to peace is a very long road that has many milestones. If indeed the summit ended in failure it is our duty to ensure that it is not the last summit, and to leave the door open for dialogue, because the alternative is war."
Jonathan Paris, of the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN that both sides had made progress at Camp David. "Now Israeli and Palestinian societies are talking instead of in slogans, they are talking of pragmatic solutions and this I think will encourage people to behave responsibly, both the leaders and the people in the street,
"We've got to get away from slogans. It is crucial that this process be completed while Clinton is at the helm."
Outcome seen as 'touch and go'
Maher Othman, of the Al-Hayat newspaper, told CNN that the question of sharing Jerusalem was very important. "Israel cannot go on claiming that East Jerusalem and the united Jerusalem is theirs until eternity.
"There are a billion Moslems around the world who refuse that and to them Jerusalem is sacred. And also for the Palestinians, it was occupied in 1967 and they consider it as their future capital for their future state and I cannot see why the world at large ought to accept the Israeli point of view.
"The Jews in the world number maybe 18-19 million people, there are many billions of Christians and Moslems alike who consider Jerusalem as equally important to them as the Jews do."
Otham considered the outcome of continued talks was "touch and go. The issues are difficult. We are talking about Jerusalem being a stumbling block, but the question of the Palestinian refugees is no less formidable. It is really at the core of the Palestinian problem."
Reuters contributed to this report.
Mideast talks continue at Camp David as Clinton departs for economic summit in Japan
The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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