Jordan's intervention saves Israeli-Palestinian talks
U.S. rebuffs overtures to mediateJuly 22, 1998
Web posted at: 8:29 p.m. EDT (2029 GMT)
TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will meet again Thursday, after last-minute Jordanian intervention kept talks aimed at reviving the Mideast peace process from unraveling.
Palestinian negotiators had ended the talks Wednesday, complaining that Israel had failed to bring any new ideas to the table. Both sides appealed to the United States for mediation, a request Washington rebuffed.
But Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan came up with "an acceptable solution to both sides," said his spokesman, Ayman Safadi, in Amman, without elaborating on the details. Talks would resume Thursday, Safadi said.
The talks come amid a dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians over a U.S.-sponsored plan under which the Israelis would turn over an additional 13 percent of the land in the West Bank to Palestinian control.
The Palestinians have accepted the plan and have said they are unwilling to alter it.
But the Israelis insist that Palestinians agree to conditions that Israelis say are necessary to protect their security, as well as cracking down on terrorists.
Nabil Abourdeneh, a senior adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said Israel "did not present anything new and continues to reject the U.S. initiative."
Israel asks for high-level U.S. involvement
Israeli officials did not say why the talks broke down, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he did not want to focus only on the issue of an Israeli pullout.
The lead Israeli negotiator, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, called for high-level U.S. involvement, mentioning by name Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mideast special envoy Dennis Ross.
But U.S. officials made it clear they would prefer that the Israelis and Palestinians work out a solution themselves.
"We have been in touch with both sides, and it is our view they should continue to stay engaged to see if they can make progress," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.
Mordechai also called for a summit between Netanyahu and Arafat, and his office said the defense minister would meet Thursday with the Palestinian leader.
Meanwhile in Washington, House Speaker Newt Gingrich met with Ahmed Querie, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
"We are mutually concerned about getting the peace process to continue to move forward," Gingrich said. "We also share a belief that prosperity is the key to long-term peace, and want to create more jobs in the Palestinian Authority's region."
Referring to the Clinton administration's efforts to respark the peace process, Gingrich said, "I think it would be more helpful now if they find a way to bring real movement. I think we need more than initiatives. We need steps to be taken."
"Whether it's done bilaterally by Israel sitting down directly with the Palestinian Authority, or whether it's done with ... the [United States] involved in a three-way [effort], I think is less important than getting to agree," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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