U.S. peace envoy meets with Arafat in Morocco
Next stop: Israel
March 27, 1997
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)
RABAT, Morocco (CNN) -- U.S. special envoy Dennis Ross and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat met on Thursday to discuss the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence and a new Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, issues troubling the Middle East peace process.
Neither Ross nor Arafat commented on their almost two-hour meeting. Ross then headed to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
David Bar-Illan, a senior aide to Netanyahu, said, "We are going to tell Mr. Ross that terrorism and the peace process are incompatible." He said the peace process cannot move forward until the Palestinian Authority completely disavows terrorism and takes action to curb it.
Meanwhile, Israel deployed more troops near Palestinian towns out of concern that violence would spread and peak on Sunday, when Palestinians make an annual Land Day protest over Israeli settlements.
The United States ordered Ross, its chief Middle East peace broker, back to the region Wednesday to try to jump-start the faltering peace process. Ross said he hopes to return to Washington this weekend to consult with President Clinton.
On Thursday, unrest flared up in the region for an eighth consecutive day. Witnesses said about 200 youths marched toward the southern outskirts of the Palestinian-ruled town of Ramallah in the West Bank, blocked the main road and attacked Israeli soldiers with stones.
Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets at the
youths. There were no immediate reports of casualties. A day earlier, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and bottles at Israeli soldiers in Ramallah.
Troops responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas. And in Bethlehem on Wednesday, Palestinians burned U.S. and Israeli flags.
The latest tensions between Palestinians and Israelis began last week after Israel began the first stage of construction on a Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem. Then on Friday, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed three Israeli women at a Tel Aviv cafe and wounded scores of others.
Three objectives of peace mission
According to the White House, Ross' mission has three main objectives. They are to:
- Seek a clear statement from Arafat to Palestinian militants to halt attacks on Israel and its civilian population.
- Urge Netanyahu to ease tensions.
- Try to persuade the two Middle East leaders to resume peace negotiations.
"His marching orders are to encourage dialogue between the parties and to resume direct discussions of issues that are important to preserving the peace process at a moment in which the peace process is frayed at the edge," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
- U.S. sends envoy to troubled Mideast - March 26, 1997
- At least 8 injured in West Bank clashes - March 25, 1997
- Palestinian police move to restore order in Hebron - March 24, 1997
- Mideast peace process: dead, or merely ailing? - March 24, 1997
- Netanyahu: Fighting terrorism 'first condition for peace' - March 23, 1997
- Israelis, Palestinians trade blame for new wave of violence - March 22, 1997
- Palestinian security arrests Hamas leader - March 22, 1997
- U.S. again vetoes U.N. resolution on Israeli housing - March 21, 1997
- Bomber, 3 women killed in Tel Aviv blast - March 21, 1997
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