Israeli Cabinet sets tough conditions for peace process
January 13, 1998
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's Cabinet unanimously adopted a
document Tuesday which toughens its stance on the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The document links territorial concessions demanded by the
Palestinians to a 12-page list of Israeli conditions,
including a crackdown on terrorist attacks against Israeli
targets, the revision of anti-Israeli clauses in the PLO
charter and a reduction of the Palestinian police force.
In response, the Palestinians accused Israel of stalling and
said they have lived up to obligations spelled out in
previous peace accords.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied he was
playing for time by continuing to link a troop withdrawal to
the Palestinians' performance on security.
"There is no ultimatum here," Netanyahu told reporters. "We
believe that the Palestinians keep their side of the bargain
and we will keep our side of the bargain. It's a very simple
Still, the Cabinet decision is likely to increase the strain
between Israel and United States, which sought a troop
withdrawal from the West Bank in the near future.
Palestinian and Israeli leaders are to hold separate talks
with President Clinton in Washington next week. Clinton
reportedly expects Netanyahu to present a detailed plan for a
troop pullback at their January 20 meeting. Senior adviser
David Bar-Illan, however, said Netanyahu will likely give
Clinton only a general outline of the pullback.
Security is of grave concern as Israel is on high alert for
possible terrorist attacks.
On Monday, several members of the Islamic group Hamas were
arrested during a raid by Israeli security forces working
with Palestinian police. Those arrested were detained on
suspicion they were planning bombings in West Bank
settlements and Israeli cities.
The Cabinet document demands the Palestinians arrest and
disarm Islamic militants, who have carried out more than a
dozen suicide bombings in Israel since 1994.
Israel also wants the Palestinian Authority to hand over
suspects in the killing of Israelis and to reduce the size of
the security forces in the West Bank from 40,000 to the
24,000 permitted in the peace accords.
Israel says the Palestinians have not lived up to their
promise to annul sections in the PLO Covenant calling for
Israel's destruction. The Palestinians say a 1996 vote by the
Palestine National Council took care of the matter.
In a U.S.-brokered agreement last year, Israel promised to
withdraw troops from the West Bank in three stages, by
mid-1998. A first pullback offer of 2 percent was rejected by
the Palestinians as insufficient, and the second stage is two