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Arafat and Barak to meet with Clinton in separate peace talks, White House says
2 Palestinians killed in Sunday clashes
GAZA CITY, Gaza (CNN) -- Both Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak are expected to arrive in Washington this week for talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton, the White House said.
News of the meetings is breathing fresh hope into peace efforts aimed at ending five weeks of Middle East violence and achieving a broader peace agreement.
Israeli and Palestinian sources told CNN that face-to-face meetings between Barak and Arafat were unlikely.
Arafat formally accepted Clinton's invitation on Sunday and is expected to meet Thursday with Clinton.
No date for Barak's visit has been announced, but Israeli Radio reported that he planned to meet with Clinton next Sunday. Clinton is scheduled to depart that same day for Asia, a trip that will take him to Hawaii, Brunei, and Vietnam.
The White House's confirmation of the impending meetings comes a day after Barak said he would meet with Clinton if Arafat did the same.
Despite a truce agreement reached Wednesday night between Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, two more Palestinians were shot and killed Sunday in Gaza.
The deaths raised the total number of people killed in five weeks of Israeli-Palestinian clashes to 185, all but 17 of them being Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.
Clinton has been trying to hold meetings with Arafat and Barak in the several weeks since an emergency summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, failed to end the fighting.
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ziad Abu Zayyad told CNN he was not optimistic about the Washington peace talks.
"I'm sorry, I don't see any real signal from the Israeli side which can give hope back to those who want it very much, to keep talking and negotiating and making progress and making peace," Zayyad said.
Dan Meridor, head of the Israeli Foreign Defense Committee, told CNN that Arafat must make a public call for Palestinians to stop their violent protests.
Meridor said there was one last chance "to stop violence and go back to the (negotiating) table... I hope it will succeed, but I have to be very cautious."
CNN Correspondent Rula Amin, reporting from Gaza City, said there was general support in the streets for Arafat to travel to Washington.
But most Palestinians, Amin reports, said they were against Arafat making compromises with Israel.
"They said the Palestinians who have died in the five weeks of fighting have died for a reason," Amin reports. "They think there has to be a political achievement for the Palestinian side before they stop demonstrating."
Palestinians and Israelis accuse each other of failing to fulfill obligations agreed to Wednesday night in the truce forged by Peres and Arafat.
"(The Palestinians) want to end the Israeli occupation of parts of the West Bank and Gaza that the Israelis have not left yet, and they say that Arafat should not compromise on that," Amin says. "They say the truce that Arafat made with Peres is senseless because they say Israeli tanks were not in their current positions when the fighting broke out on September 28."
For their part, Israelis accuse Palestinians of failing to do enough to keep demonstrators away from Israeli positions.
"We have agreed, Mr. Arafat and Mr. Peres, some days ago that Arafat would issue a statement which he didn't do," Meridor told CNN. "He has to issue a statement: 'Stop violence.' We don't need our tanks there, we don't want them there, we don't need our soldiers there, we don't want them there, we want to go back and talk."
But Palestinians say if the army would pull back its forces, there would be no army positions for the demonstrators to attack.
"Israeli soldiers are on the edges of our villages and cities and our people, they see the soldiers in front of them and they clash with the soldiers," Zayyad told CNN. "What is needed is to take the army far from the population."
On Sunday, a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot during clashes at the border of Gaza's al-Bureij refugee camp. Palestinian hospital sources told CNN the teen-ager was shot in the head, but Israeli officials said the only casualty they knew about in that area was a youth who was shot in the leg.
At the Karni Crossing between Gaza and Israel, a 28-year-old Palestinian man was killed when he was shot in the heart, Palestinians hospital sources told CNN.
In the West Bank, Israeli-Palestinian clashes occurred in the towns of Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Earlier Sunday in Gaza, mourners held a funeral for a 21-year-old Palestinian man who was shot and killed two days ago in the West Bank. The funeral was delayed by one day because of bureaucratic difficulties transporting the body to Gaza.
Barak says he will participate in Washington peace talks if Arafat will
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