Israelis: Netanyahu-Arafat meeting 'very likely'
Militant Islamic groups vow revenge for shooting
January 2, 1997
Web posted at: 9:20 a.m. EST (1420 GMT)
HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat
were likely to meet Thursday to initial a deal on Israeli
troops redeployment in Hebron, according to a spokesman for
the prime minister.
Palestinian officials were less optimistic, telling CNN that
there are still some important issues to be resolved.
Although they did not discount the possibility of a Thursday
meeting, they said it was possible rather than probable.
But Netanyahu spokesman David Bar Illan said that the prime
minister believed negotiators could finish their work Thursday,
paving the way for his meeting with Arafat.
Negotiations were postponed briefly Wednesday after an
Israeli soldier opened fire with an M-16 rifle in the West
Bank city's market, wounding seven Palestinians in an effort
to scuttle the deal.
The militant group Islamic Jihad distributed a leaflet vowing
revenge for the attack, and Israeli news reports said that
the militant wing of Hamas also vowed to avenge the shooting.
The Islamic Jihad leaflet called the Hebron deal "an
agreement of shame," and said that the marketplace shooting
would spark more attacks on Palestinians.
Negotiations resumed Wednesday evening when Israeli Defense
Minister Yitzhak Mordechai met with Arafat's deputy at the
home of U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk to resolve remaining
Mordechai said after the meeting, which lasted until early
Thursday, that one or two points of difference remained,
Israel radio reported late Wednesday.
Gunman wanted to sabotage deal
The shooting, earlier in the day, involved an off-duty
Israeli soldier who sprayed bullets at Arabs in a Hebron
market, in an attempt to sabotage a possible deal on handing
over most of Hebron to Palestinian rule.
The gunman, Pvt. Noam Friedman, 22, was an off-duty soldier
from a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem. He was expelled
recently from a Jewish seminary and had been advised to seek
psychiatric help. Israel TV reported he had been drafted into
the army despite a psychiatrist's recommendation against it.
After Friedman opened fire into the crowded market, Israeli
troops tackled him and prevented additional casualties.
Netanyahu condemned the attack as a "criminal act" in a phone
call to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and U.S. President
Bill Clinton said the incident was "cowardly."
Hebron -- home to 150,000 Palestinians and 450 Jewish
settlers -- had been tense for weeks as a long-delayed deal
painstakingly nears completion.
Wednesday's shooting stirred memories of the 1994 Hebron
mosque massacre, when settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on
Muslim worshipers inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs, killing
U.S. envoy Dennis Ross, who spoke with both Netanyahu and
Arafat Wednesday, called on both sides to double their
efforts in the wake of the attack.
"Those who use violence cannot be permitted to be the
arbiters of the future," Ross said
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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