Israeli-Palestinian peace talks continue Monday
Focus on Israeli troop withdrawal from Hebron
October 6, 1996
Web posted at: 8:20 p.m. EDT (0020 GMT)
EREZ CHECKPOINT, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Israeli and Palestinian
negotiators closed three hours of talks with an agreement to
establish a committee to implement a long-delayed Israeli
troop withdrawal from the disputed West Bank town of Hebron.
Meeting in U.S.-brokered talks in a drab, military-style
compound near the Gaza-Israel border, Israel and the PLO said
they would activate a committee on Hebron redeployment but
had yet to agree on a venue. The Hebron committee will meet
Monday, Israel Television reported.
"The parties reiterated their commitment to Oslo and its
implementation," said Israeli negotiator Dore Gold, referring
to Israel-PLO peace deals forged in the Norwegian capital.
"We have a difficult task ahead of us. We are determined to
exert every possible effort to expedite the implementation of
the interim agreement on the ground," chief Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat said after the talks.
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, dispatched to the
region after an emergency PLO-Israel summit at the White
House last week, said the situation is still dangerous,
although tensions had eased.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Christopher
that he would carry out signed agreements with the PLO.
But Israel wants "adjustments" to the security arrangements
that the two sides signed in 1993, and that has emerged as a
major stumbling block in the talks.
"We have real security concerns brought about by the mass
firings of Palestinian policemen who were supposed to protect
the Jewish population in Hebron against attacks," said
The Palestinians have said they refuse to renegotiate the
Oslo agreement. "We are asking for implementation, precise
implementation," Arafat said.
The talks Monday will focus on the divisive issue of Hebron,
a West Bank city of nearly 100,000 Palestinians where some
400 Israeli settlers live protected by a heavily armed
Israeli security force.
Israel agreed to withdraw from Hebron as part of the Oslo
talks, but that process was halted during a string of suicide
bombing attacks earlier this year.
Israel ended its 10-day curfew on Hebron Sunday and pulled
its tanks back from some populous areas. It also said it
would end its closure of Tulkarm and Jenin in Gaza, while
allowing some 2000 workers to return to their jobs at the
Erez industrial zone.
In addition to the Hebron withdrawal and the closing of part
of a controversial tunnel in Jerusalem, Arafat said the main
issues for Palestinians are the need for a corridor linking
the West Bank and Gaza Strip and an airport in Gaza that the
Israeli government hasn't permitted.
Netanyahu in recent days has softened his rhetoric, but it
remains to be seen whether he will offer substantive
concessions to the Palestinians.
CNN Correspondents Brent Sadler, Walter Rodgers and
Reuters contributed to this report.
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