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The Man and the Issues   |   Live Chat   |   Message Board

Prospects for Peace

Netanyahu and Clinton

(CNN) -- Before a breakdown in peace talks early last year, Israel and the Palestinians had been moving slowly toward peaceful compromise.

They had signed accords to lay the groundwork for peace, and Israeli troops had begun withdrawing from the West Bank, allowing Palestinians a measure of self-rule.

But 1997 saw a reversal in direction, as Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and Palestinian suicide bombings moved the parties away from reconciliation.

The United States has been trying to get the stalled peace process back on track, with U.S.-mediated talks and pointed diplomacy.

President Clinton, meeting separately in January with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, proposed that Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank continue in stages, with each step matched by a new Palestinian action to improve security.

Subsequent meetings have sought to address the scope of further redeployment and timing, with no evidence of significant progress as Israel and the Palestinians hold out for their demands.

Although Israel has withdrawn from about 30 percent of the West Bank, the Palestinians want another substantial Israeli troop withdrawal before interim peace deals go any further.

Palestinians have said they want Israel to pull back from at least another 30 percent of the West Bank under interim peace deals, but Netanyahu reportedly refuses to go beyond 9.5 percent and continues to link troop withdrawals to Palestinian efforts to combat terrorism.

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