Netanyahu still hedging on Washington summit
May 7, 1998
Web posted at: 3:59 p.m. EDT (1959 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
on Thursday refused to give a firm answer on whether he plans
to be in Washington on Monday for a summit with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
When asked about the matter at CNN's World Report
conference, Netanyahu said the Israelis were ready for peace
but that in order to achieve peace, Palestinians must
comply with two Israeli "principles:" compliance and
Compliance, he said, means cracking down on militants who
oppose the peace process and changing a clause in
the Palestinian Liberation Organization charter that calls
for the destruction of Israel.
Netanyahu says first, "we need compliance"
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Israel's concerns over compliance and security were addressed
during the meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright in London earlier this week, he said.
"We are eager for peace. We are eager to move this process
forward ... on both sides of the aisle," Netanyahu said
during the interview by satellite linkup. "If
those basic principles are secured, we can move ahead and
give a better tomorrow for everyone living in this troubled
"I don't know if we'll get to Washington on Monday because
there are a lot of issues that are left open," Netanyahu
said, when asked for a second time if he intended to attend
the proposed summit with Arafat.
Arafat says Palestinians have "the right to declare our
independent state" in May, 1999
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In an earlier interview on CNN, Arafat said he hoped
Netanyahu would attend the talks in Washington. Netanyahu
should also remember that the majority of Israel favors peace
with the Palestinians, Arafat said.
"He has to remember that the majority of the Knesset
(Israel's parliament) are with
the peace process, as I have mentioned the majority of the
Israelis are with the peace process, and I hope that he will
follow up this majority of his Israeli people," Arafat said.
"I hope that (Netanyahu) will go to Washington with a
positive response to the American initiative, and not to try
again to open dialogue, to waste time," Arafat said.
The United States is trying to get the Israelis to accept a
13 percent pullback in the West Bank. The Palestinians, who
wanted Israel to cede 30 percent more land, have grudgingly
accepted the proposal.
Netanyahu also reiterated his opposition to the creation of a
Palestinian state, but said he is not opposed to having the
Palestinians govern themselves.
"I believe that ... peace should enable the Palestinians to
govern their lives, but for us to have our lives protected,"
the Israeli leader said.
"When you use the word state, what comes to most people's
minds is that a state is uninhibited. It can field a large
army, it can bring in missiles and tanks and artillery. You
can't really stop that. You can't demilitarize an entire
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