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World - Middle East

S P E C I A L Struggle for Peace

Arab leaders to hold Sunday Cairo summit

Yasser Arafat  
July 4, 1998
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians will hold a summit in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official said on Saturday.

"President (Yasser) Arafat will leave for Cairo later today to attend a three-way summit which includes (Jordan's) King Hussein, (Egyptian) President Hosni Mubarak. The three-way summit will be held in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the deadlock in the peace process," the official said.

Jordanian officials said King Hussein would travel to Cairo on Sunday for the summit meeting. He would be accompanied by Prime Minister Abdul-Salam al-Majali and Chief of Royal Court Fayez al-Tarawnah.

The three leaders last held a summit in September 1997 to discuss their concerns at the stalled peace process.

Benjamin Netanyahu  

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled for 15 months over Jewish settlement expansion, Palestinian suicide bombings and the extent of an Israeli West Bank troop redeployment.

Israel has rejected a reported U.S. initiative to pull back its troops from another 13 percent of the West Bank in return for Palestinian action against Muslim militants. The Palestinians say they have accepted the U.S. plan.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace agreements with Israel but their relations with the Jewish state have become increasingly strained because of the deadlock in the peace process.

Palestinian officials have warned Israel that further stalemate would only worsen the situation.

"The continued freeze in negotiations caused by Israeli obstinacy has created a dangerous situation on the ground, which is becoming more explosive because of Israel's plans," the Palestinian Authority Cabinet said in a statement at the end of a meeting on Friday night.

The statement, carried by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, blamed Israel for the deadlock. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last Sunday that "very wide gaps" on security issues were delaying completion of the U.S.-brokered deal.

He accused the Palestinians of substituting "empty words" for concrete action on security commitments made in interim peace agreements.

Relations between the two sides took a turn for the worse on Thursday in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian police and Israeli soldiers pointed rifles at each other during a standoff that lasted several hours.

The standoff began when Israel initially barred a Palestinian Cabinet minister from driving through a military checkpoint on a key coastal road into an area of Gaza where passage of Palestinians "is usually prohibited," the army said.

Palestinian police and civilian vehicles converged on several main junctions, effectively besieging Jewish settlements.

During their Cairo summit, the three Arab leaders also are expected to discuss Israel's plan to expand Jerusalem, which would extend the city's boundaries and link the city to Jewish settlements on Israeli-occupied land in the West Bank through an "umbrella municipality."

Arafat said Wednesday that Palestinians would defend Jerusalem in "whatever way we can" from Israel's plans, which have also drawn international criticism.

The Palestinian leader has called for an Arab summit to be convened to discuss the Israeli expansion plan for Jerusalem and Jewish settlement activities.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Struggle For Peace
B A C K G R O U N D   I    K E Y   P L A Y E R S   I   M A P S

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