New controversies arise in Mideast peace process
November 11, 1999
From staff and wire reports
RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- As Israel prepares to turn over control of another 5 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians on Monday, it vows that a final peace settlement will be based on the 1967 U.N. land-for-peace Resolution 242, a pledge that resolves one dispute between the two sides.
But, contrary to expectations, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat did not sign a map of the transfer area that was given to him by Israeli lead negotiator Oded Eran.
Palestinian officials said discussions on the transfer are continuing. Arafat is scheduled to meet Israeli Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami on Friday.
Palestinians control about 30 percent of the West Bank.
Eran reaffirmed his government's position Thursday regarding the U.N. resolution. He hoped his remarks would end questions surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's comments earlier in the week.
"I would like to put an end to all of this by saying it is agreed between the two sides that ... negotiations will lead to a permanent settlement that will be based on U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338," Eran said.
Barak sparked the controversy earlier in the week when he distanced himself from Resolution 242, which called upon Israel to withdraw from land occupied in the 1967 war in return for peace and security.
As Eran sought to end one controversy, another erupted Thursday. Suha Arafat, wife of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, accused Israel, as U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton sat in the audience, of inflicting environmental and health damage on Palestinians.
Her remarks prompted a swift condemnation from Barak.
"It would be preferable if the Palestinian side would bring its positions to the negotiating table," a statement from Barak's office said. "Poisoning the public atmosphere does not help bring about success in these negotiations."
Various other issues -- including Palestinian officials' concerns about the development of Jewish settlements on the West Bank -- remained Thursday as hurdles to a final peace agreement as negotiators met for the second time this week.
Palestinians are concerned that Israel approved 2,400 new apartments in the settlements, encouraged a major building wave on the fringes of Jerusalem and allowed 30 small settlements to remain.
"What's important is the atmosphere at the grass roots level amongst our population who live in areas confined between settlements," Palestinian Council member Salah Tamari said.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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