Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Mideast cease-fire still elusive

Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in Aqaba, Jordan, on Sunday  

AMMAN, Jordan -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has promised "unconditional steps" in lifting restrictions on Palestinian territories but a cease-fire remains elusive.

The lack of a deal was mirrored on the ground where violence continued to flare in the West Bank and Gaza on Sunday, including four bomb incidents.

Peres, who is in Cairo and Amman to discuss a joint Egyptian-Jordanian proposal at ending seven months of bloodshed, said: "We are going to take steps...immediate, unconditional steps -- to facilitate the life of the people in the territories in every possible way."

He did not elaborate.

Since the intifada, which has claimed nearly 500 lives, Palestinian workers have been barred from jobs in Israel, hitting the economy in the West Bank and Gaza.

CNN's Ben Wedeman visits a residential Palestinian home that the occupants say is regularly fired upon by Israeli soldiers

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

CNN's Rula Amin: Progress has been made towards a cease-fire agreement

632 Kb/58 secs.
AIFF or WAV sound

CNN's Ben Wedeman: The question now is if Arafat is in control to stop the Intifada

534 Kb/49 secs.
AIFF or WAV sound
graphic Recent acts of violence in the Middle East:
 • Bombings
 • Activist deaths

Out of about 130,000 Palestinians -- one-sixth of the Palestinian workforce -- with jobs in Israel, only 10,000 now have work permits allowing them to get to those jobs.

Israel's Defense Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said another 11,000 Palestinians would be allowed to return to their jobs in Israel soon.

But Peres told reporters after his meeting with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, that while both sides agreed on the need to end the violence a cease-fire was not yet in hand.

The foreign minister added: "There are still issues that we have to clarify and I don't want to claim that everything is OK and everything is agreed.

"But I can say that an agreement on how to handle the situation was really achieved."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Israel and the Palestinians were still discussing a cease-fire accord that Mubarak had announced after meeting Peres, Reuters said.

Peres then travelled to Amman where he met King Abdullah for two-hours of talks on the joint peace proposal at the monarch's beachside palace in the Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Jordanian officials were unavailable to say whether Peres had given a favourable response to the peace plan.

Details of the peace proposal

Under the Egyptian-Jordanian plan, a cease-fire would follow an Israeli freeze on settlement construction, and talks on a final peace deal would begin where they left off under the previous Israeli government.

The initiative also calls on Palestinians to stop violence against Israelis.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has insisted that existing settlements should be expanded according to population needs.

He has also emphasised that he wants an interim peace agreement to be implemented over an extended period of time and not a final status deal.

Moussa told reporters: "One of the major points that were discussed between me and the foreign minister and with President Mubarak was the question of settlements, which we consider very, very, very serious."

Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu-Ragheb said in remarks published on Sunday in the London-based al-Hayat newspaper and Jordan's Petra news agency that Jordan would reject any fundamental Israeli amendments to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative.

But a minister told Reuters in Aqaba before the talks: "We are ready to listen if the Israelis mean business and want to change the situation on the ground and take advantage of the opportunity to create the right conditions for a resumption of negotiations."

Peres will brief Sharon before flying to Washington on Monday for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Violence continued on Sunday with the Israeli army saying what appeared to be a car bomb exploded near a school bus carrying Jewish settler students on a road into the West Bank, Associated Press reported.

The body of a Palestinian man was found in the badly damaged car, and he was suspected of being the perpetrator, the army said.

Also, a device exploded near two homes in the Jewish settlement of Shaari Tikva, shattering windows but causing no injuries, Associated Press said.

Two bombs, one on a West Bank road and the other in the Israeli town of Netanya, were neutralised.

Heavy gunfire was exchanged in southern Gaza.

Mortars injure five Jewish settlers
April 28, 2001
Mideast talks amid clashes
April 27, 2001
Heavy exchange of gunfire reported in Ramallah
April 27, 2001
Israelis celebrate independence, Palestinians mourn deaths
April 26, 2001

Egyptian Presidency
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Knesset, Israeli Parliament
Israel Defense Forces
Permanent Mission of Israel to the U.N.
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian Red Crescent
Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N.
U.S. State Department, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
U.N. Question of Palestine home page
The E.U.'s Middle East Policy

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top