ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
   africa
   americas
   asianow
   europe
   middle east
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:

 

World - Middle East

Palestinians welcome Barak, hope peace process resumes

Arafat, arriving at his Gaza City office, called on Israelis to 'vote for peace' Monday

related videoRELATED VIDEO

       Windows Media Real

       28 K 80 K
 ALSO:
Netanyahu concedes defeat in Israeli election
 IN-DEPTH SPECIAL:
Israeli elections
 

May 17, 1999
Web posted at: 11:17 p.m. EDT (0317 GMT)


In this story:

'Dry three years under Netanyahu'

Palestinian: 'I don't think we'll have an easy ride'

Barak firm on pledge despite Hezbollah attack

Hamas vows to fight; Jordan to work for peace

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



GAZA, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian officials watching the televised results of the Israeli elections at the office of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on Monday hugged one another when they realized that moderate Labor Party leader Ehud Barak had soundly defeated hard-line incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Looking pleased, Arafat afterwards offered "best wishes" to Barak. "I congratulate him," Arafat told reporters in Gaza City. Asked if he thought the left-leaning Barak would move the peace process forward, he answered: "We hope so."

Earlier Monday, Arafat called on Israelis to "vote for peace," which many considered a thinly veiled endorsement of Barak.

Palestinian leaders had remained publicly neutral before the election, but when the results were in many expressed satisfaction and hope that the stalled peace process would resume.

"This is a sweeping loss for the Israeli fanatic right-wing," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian minister of information and culture.

Netanyahu conceded defeat and announced he would quit as leader of the right-wing Likud Party after Israeli television exit polls projected Barak had won the election by a landslide.

'Dry three years under Netanyahu'

Ahmed Korei, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said he now hoped the peace process, suspended by Netanyahu since December, would proceed.

"The result showed that without a doubt the Israelis want to pursue the peace process. We hope that the dry three years under Netanyahu would be forgotten and hope would return by pursuing peace," said Korei, who helped engineer the 1993 Oslo interim peace deals.

Frustration with the lack of progress in the peace process has undermined the Palestinian Authority's credibility among its own people.

"I hope this is a message from the Israeli people for peace," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN after the election.

Palestinian: 'I don't think we'll have an easy ride'

"I don't think we'll have an easy ride with Mr. Barak," he added, but "there is a difference between a tough negotiator and a non-negotiator."

Barak
Asked if Barak would move the peace process forward, Arafat replied, 'We hope so'  

To show good faith, Barak should "move immediately" to implement peace agreements and remove troops from the West Bank, Erakat said.

"We need to develop trust. The trust level is below zero now," he said.

Palestinians want Barak to implement outstanding interim deals which would give them control over more of the West Bank and Gaza. They hope to conclude talks on permanent status issues within 12 months.

Barak has said he will put any peace deal with Arafat to a referendum. Barak also has vowed to revive stalled peace talks with Syria.

Barak firm on pledge despite Hezbollah attack

In a victory speech in Tel Aviv before dawn Tuesday, Barak repeated a campaign promise to withdraw Israeli troops from south Lebanon within a year, despite news of an attack by Hezbollah guerrillas in the area.

The rebels fired about 20 rockets on northern Israel during the night, an Israeli security official said, apparently in retaliation for the deaths of two Lebanese civilians from Israeli rocket fire.

Fires
Fires blaze after Hezbollah rockets slammed into northern Israel early Tuesday  

The prime minister-elect added he wanted to send "a strong hand" of support to those spending the night in shelters in the north of Israel.

Hamas vows to fight; Jordan to work for peace

The Islamic militant movement Hamas dismissed the election result, saying there was no difference between Netanyahu and Barak.

"We don't have illusions. We look at Barak as no different from Netanyahu," said Ismail Abu Shanab, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. Earlier on Monday, Hamas vowed to continue attacks against Israel.

But other Arab leaders in the region promised to help the new Israeli prime minister negotiate peace with Palestinian leaders.

"Obviously we are fully committed to the peace process," said King Abdullah of neighboring Jordan, which has close historic ties with the Palestinians.

"Jordan has always had a commitment to move the process forward and to stand by our friends in Israel and the Palestinians," said the king, who plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Reuters contributed to this report.



ELECTION BACKGROUND:
Jerusalem Dispatch: Single-issue election puts spotlight on Netanyahu
More choices, weaker voices
Analysis: Why is this election different from all others?
Palestinian perspective: Election viewed with skepticism
U.S. 'hired guns' leave their mark on Israeli politics
Expatriate finds Israelis very much involved in politics
Understanding the U.S.- Israel connection
From TIME.com: James Carville stirs Israel's melting pot

SPECIAL SECTION:
Israeli Elections


RELATED STORIES:
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), PALESTINE, By Dr. Eng. Baker Abdel Munem
Netanyahu vows 'surprise' win; Barak forces confident
May 17, 1999
Likelihood of runoff big question as Israeli race winds down
May 15, 1999
Netanyahu pins re-election hopes on forcing runoff
May 14, 1999
Barak's lead over Netanyahu grows in Israeli poll
May 13, 1999
Ultra-Orthodox rabbis endorse Netanyahu for re-election
May 12, 1999
Israel, PLO welcome delay in office-closings order
May 11, 1999
Netanyahu orders PLO offices in Jerusalem closed
March 10, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Israel's Institutions of Government
The Complete Guide to Palistine's Websites
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Home
The Middle East Network Information Center
Office of the Israeli Prime Minister
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Labor party
Likud party
Welcome to the Knesset - The Israeli Parliament
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.