Ross returns to Mideast to nudge peace process
May 7, 1997
Web posted at: 12:11 p.m. EDT (1611 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- U.S. envoy Dennis Ross is bringing a new
Mideast peace initiative to meetings with the leaders of
Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli newspapers reported
Ross, in his second shuttle mission to the Middle East in a
month, was to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat separately
According to the newspaper reports, Ross' new proposal could
include a freeze on Israeli construction projects and a
pledge from Arafat to share intelligence information about
suspected terrorist activities.
Both sides held out some hope that Ross could nudge the
stalled peace process forward.
"The solution is in the hands of Dennis Ross," said
Palestinian municipal affairs minister Saeb Erakat. "We hope
he is coming to save the process."
"There seems to be movement whenever Dennis Ross is around,"
said Netanyahu adviser David Bar-Illan, "and therefore it
would be wrong to expect dramatic developments but it would
be at least as wrong to be pessimistic."
Talks broke off in March when Israel began construction on a
housing project in East Jerusalem, a project strongly opposed
by the Palestinians.
Arafat met Tuesday with Israeli President Ezer Weizman, who
said the Palestinian had agreed to resume security
cooperation with the Israelis. Arafat said that he had agreed
to do so only in cooperation with U.S. security officials.
Palestinians say they are ready to accept Israel's security
conditions in order to open a nearly complete international
airport near Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
"The airport is one of the most important symbols of the
Palestinian state," said Zaidan Fayez, director of the
Palestinian Civil Aviation Authority. "As Palestinians our
target is to achieve the Palestinian state and the airport."
The Israelis, however, are not satisfied with the
arrangements, and the airport remains closed to commercial
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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