Palestinians warn of 'explosion' in peace process
Netanyahu, Clinton to meet Monday on crisis
April 5, 1997
Web posted at: 4:52 p.m. EST (2152 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Cabinet
warned Saturday of a "comprehensive explosion" erupting in
the troubled Middle East if tensions do not ease soon.
The Cabinet also issued harsh statements toward the United
States and U.S. President Clinton, pointing out that the U.S.
has twice vetoed U.N. resolutions condemning Israel's
"The current situation could lead to
explosion . . ."
- From the statement
The comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu prepared to head to Washington on Monday for talks
with Clinton on forging a new peace initiative. The Cabinet
urged Clinton to force Israel to stop construction on what it
considers Palestinian land.
"The current situation could lead to a comprehensive
explosion resulting from the great Israeli pressures on our
people in security, military, economic and humanitarian
spheres," the statement said.
Supporters of Arafat's Fatah movement marched through the
streets in Gaza, chanting anti-Israel statements and carrying
a mock coffin that symbolized what they called a dead peace
process. The students burned the coffin in effigy. (Clashes in the West Bank continue - 1.2M/31 sec. QuickTime movie or 3M/31 sec. large frame QuickTime movie)
Two sides trade barbs
Arafat spokesman Marwan Kanafani also said Arafat drafted a
letter to Clinton in which the PLO leader outlined key points
for a U.S.-brokered peace initiative, including:
- Settlement construction halt
- Recognition of the land-for-peace principle
- Affirmation that previous agreements must be carried out
Clinton has told Arafat that the United States is willing to
move forward with a new peace initiative and that he would
coordinate with the Palestinian leader before making it
public, said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio the Palestinians did not
yet know what the main points of the American initiative
David Bar-Illan, Netanyahu's communications director,
denounced the Cabinet's statements, saying such statements
would not promote peace.
"It's regrettable that the language of threats and violence
has now entered the vocabulary of Palestinian Authority
leaders as Netanyahu is going to Washington," he said.
He added that Netanyahu will relay to Clinton Israeli demands
that the Palestinian Authority crack down on terrorism as a
condition for resuming peace talks.
The peace process broke down last month when Israel moved
forward with plans to build a new Jewish
settlement in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem, triggering
weeks of violence in the region.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stepped up pressure on
Israel Thursday when she told Israeli Defense
Minister Yitzhak Mordechai in Washington that she was
concerned about Jewish settlement expansion at a time when
tensions are so widespread, Israel army radio said.
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