Peres, Arafat meet on strained note
August 23, 1996
Web posted at: 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat's scheduled meeting with former Israeli Prime Minister
Shimon Peres in the West Bank town of Ramallah was delayed
Thursday when Israel denied air clearance to the Palestinian
leader's helicopters for more than three hours.
Arafat finally met Peres in the evening in the self-ruled
Gaza Strip. It was their first meeting since Peres lost
Israel's May 29 elections.
Palestinian officials accused right-wing Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to stop the Ramallah meeting by
keeping Arafat grounded.
In protest, Arafat canceled a separate meeting between
Israeli and PLO officials, on civilian affairs, at the
Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
Arafat and Peres, main architects of the 1993 PLO-Israel
peace deal along with Israel's Yitzhak Rabin, met for about
an hour at the Palestinian military coordination
They told reporters afterwards they were committed to
protecting the peace deal.
Arafat said that they "had had a very important discussion
concerning how to protect and to push forward the peace
"We made an agreement with the Palestinians, and I feel
deeply obliged by every promise made on behalf of the
previous government, on behalf of the Israeli people," Peres
said. "If you replace rifles with words, words must be
Reuters contributed to this report.
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