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World - Middle East

Israeli-Palestinian deadlock broken

New Wye deal could be signed Saturday

September 3, 1999
Web posted at: 10:03 a.m. EDT (1403 GMT)


In this story:

Marathon talks continue Friday

High hopes of restored trust

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators broke a deadlock over the release of Palestinian prisoners Friday, raising hopes that a new agreement implementing the Wye River land-for-security pact was imminent.

Officials on both sides of the talks told CNN the Palestinians agreed to accept Israel's proposal that 350 prisoners be released, instead of the 400 the Palestinians had sought.

The sole unresolved issue involves a clause prohibiting either side from taking unilateral steps affecting the West Bank and Gaza. That would keep the Israelis from building new settlements on the West Bank, and it would put the Palestinian hopes of a unilateral declaration of statehood on hold until a final agreement is reached.

The compromise reached Friday sets a February 15, 2000, goal for a framework agreement on permanent status.

The final status agreement would be linked with the third and final handover of Israeli land to the Palestinians, as stipulated in the Wye agreement.

Struggle for Peace
 
. . . .

News:

  • Wye River Memorandum

    Background:

  • Mideast Timeline
  • The West Bank in Brief
  • Key Players

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  • Middle East
  • Israel
  • Land-for-peace deal

    Interactive:
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  •  

    Marathon talks continue Friday

    U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem on Friday in hopes of setting up a signing ceremony on Saturday -- after the Jewish Sabbath ends -- in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

    News of the breakthrough came after a marathon day of diplomacy by Albright on Thursday. Albright arrived in Egypt to witness the signing ceremony, which had been scheduled for Thursday evening, but ended up shuttling between Israelis and Palestinians.

    After meeting with Palestinians and Egyptian officials in Alexandria, Albright flew to Israel for more than three hours of late-night talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

    Israel toughened its line in the talks, threatening to implement the original Wye accord "according to its original version."

    That version was what the Palestinians originally wanted, but both sides have worked out a better deal since then.

    The new plan sets a five-month timetable for Israel to withdraw from part of the West Bank, ending January 20. Talks on a final agreement would begin after that.

    High hopes of restored trust

    The deal would be the first between Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Both sides had hoped to restore the trust damaged during the three years Barak's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, held office.

    Though Netanyahu signed the Wye accords in 1998, his government froze their implementation, accusing the Palestinians of violating the deal.

    "The political climate because of the failure of the peace process was very much poisoned in the last few years," Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Thursday. "Now it is our task to revive the peace process, and also introduce an element of optimism in the general atmosphere in the region."

    Correspondent Andrea Koppel and Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers contributed to this report.


    RELATED STORIES:
    Albright urges Israeli-Palestinian deal
    September 2, 1999
    Mideast talks clouded by pessimism
    September 1, 1999
    Mideast talks yield optimism
    August 30, 1999
    Talks to revive Wye accord to resume this weekend
    August 26, 1999
    Palestinian sources: Compromise reached on Israeli withdrawal
    August 25, 1999

    RELATED SITES:
    Israel's Institutions of Government
    Office of the Israeli Prime Minister
    The Middle East Network Information Center
    Palestinian National Authority
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