Sparring sides call U.S. Mideast peace mission a failure
May 16, 1997
Web posted at: 4:00 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian and Israeli officials on
Friday described the latest American Middle East peace
initiative as ending in failure, with a Palestinian spokesman
declaring the peace process "clinically dead."
U.S. envoy Dennis Ross was to return to the United States
Friday after nine days of trying to get the stalled talks
Palestinian spokesman Marwan Kanafani called Ross' trip a
"complete failure" and accused U.S. President Clinton of not
being serious enough in pushing for peace.
"The peace process is clinically dead. We need a last effort
to save it," Kanafani told a news conference in Cairo. "It's
about time the international community, and especially the
government of the United States, take a serious step ... to
save the peace process."
He said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat wrote Clinton a
letter, saying he was disappointed in Ross' trip. "This is
not the mediation that in fact could save the peace process,"
According to Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abourdeneh, Arafat
also asked Clinton for "a more effective, active role, not
only on the Palestinian track but also on the Arab track."
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his
Cabinet that no progress had been made in Ross' mission. He
also accused Arafat of creating an atmosphere of false alarm.
"There is an attempt, apparently, by the Palestinian
Authority, by its leader, to create an artificial crisis,"
said Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh.
Peace talks broke off in March when Israel began construction
on a housing project on disputed land in the southeastern
outskirts of Jerusalem, a project strongly opposed by the
Israeli and Palestinian security officials were to have met
at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv earlier Friday to discuss
resuming cooperation. But Arafat ordered the Palestinian
representatives not to attend.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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