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Israel, Palestinians accept U.S. cease-fire plan

Palestinians shout outside Arafat's office during his meeting with Tenet.  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have accepted a blueprint for a cease-fire from CIA Director George Tenet, U.S. sources told CNN Wednesday.

Palestinian sources said the ceasefire plan opens the door for a possible trilateral security meeting, which could be held later Wednesday, and they said it's possible Tenet will attend.

Palestinians accepted Tenet's proposed blueprint early Wednesday after talks between Tenet and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Palestinian sources said. But the Palestinians have rejected a clause proposing a buffer zone as part of the deal.

The sources said Tenet also promised the Palestinians there will be a timetable for the lifting of Israeli closures of some Palestinian regions.

The U.S. sources said the blueprint is consistent with the Mitchell Committee report and all its recommendations. The United States will work with both parties to complete a timeline for full implementation of the Mitchell report recommendations, the sources said.


The meeting between Tenet and Arafat got under way Tuesday night in Ramallah, Palestinian officials told CNN, as Tenet prepared to leave the region after days of trying to get Israelis and Palestinians to agree to his plan.

Tenet's decision to depart put greater pressure on the Palestinians to decide whether to accept the proposal. He had asked both sides to respond by Tuesday, and the Israelis said Tuesday morning they had agreed to the plan with reservations.

Tenet met also met Tuesday morning with Palestinian officials. They left that session without any firm indication of whether they would accept or reject the proposal. They then went into a meeting with Arafat and held a second meeting with Arafat Tuesday afternoon.

Tenet met with Palestinians all day Tuesday.  

The Palestinians were known to be seeking a direct linkage between any cease-fire and the implementation of the Mitchell Committee report on Middle East peace.

The Israelis, after a meeting Tuesday morning with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his top military and security chiefs, said they would agree to the Tenet blueprint with some reservations.

The Palestinians have said they want to make sure that a freeze on settlement activity in Palestinian territories is implemented during the early stages of any cease-fire as well as an immediate end to the Israeli closure of the territories.

A statement from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv said the United States was pleased about the proposed plan.

"Its purpose is to resume security cooperation, end the violence and restore the situation on the ground that existed before September 28, 2000," the statement said. "Steps will be taken immediately to implement the work plan."

"Our efforts with parties on this work plan are consistent with our strong commitment to implementation of the Mitchell Report in all its aspects as a package of sequential steps to end the violence, rebuild the confidence and resume negotiations," the statement added.

CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna and correspondents Jerrold Kessel and David Ensor contributed to this report.



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