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>JN April 8, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 62
Clinton Doesn't Rule Out Camp David Approach
By David Borgida (VOA-White House)
President Clinton has met at the White House with visiting Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to revive stalled
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The president is not ruling out
a proposal by Netanyahu that Clinton sponsor talks similar to those
conducted 20 years ago at the Camp David presidential retreat by
then-president Jimmy Carter.
But the president first wants to find a diplomatic course agreeable
to both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. Clinton hedged on that
issue, saying only that he would not rule out any plan but that one
might be "premature."
"I think it is important not to jump the gun on that," Clinton said
before his meeting with Netanyahu. "I wouldn't rule out any
reasonable opportunity for me to make a positive contribution. But
we have to have the conditions and understandings necessary to go
forward. The most important thing is to get the thing going again."
With Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat insisting Israel stop building
Jewish settlements on disputed land, and Netanyahu asserting no
change in his government's settlement policy, Clinton is facing
one of his toughest challenges in his role as a Middle East
Clinton categorized the meeting as "long and very thorough," but
cautioned that there was a lot of work to be done to get the peace
process "back on track."
"We had a very specific, frank, candid and long talk. And now we're
going to talk to the Palestinians and see if there's something we
can do to get this thing going again. We'll do our very best and
I'll do my best and that's all I think I should say right now."
Netanyahu had previously proposed that Israel and the Palestinian
Authority should begin so-called final status talks immediately,
pointing to a conclusion within six months.
A Palestinian delegation will be here later this week as a
follow-up to the meeting with Netanyahu. Clinton hopes he can
restore security and build confidence in the peace process --
which has been in jeopardy since Israel began work last month on a
controversial housing project in east Jerusalem. When Netanyahu
was here in February, Clinton reiterated his opposition to the
But underscoring the delicate diplomatic balancing act he faces,
before his meeting with Netanyahu, Clinton said there should be
zero tolerance for terrorism -- a comment aimed at Israel's concern
about Palestinian demonstrations and violence that have erupted
since the construction on the east Jerusalem settlement began.
Netanyahu has said he will not make concessions in the face of
Arafat Says Israel Declared War on Palestinians
By Michael Drudge (VOA-New Delhi)
Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat says Israel has virtually
declared war on the Palestinian people with its troop deployments
and Jewish settlement practices. Arafat is in New Delhi, seeking
support at a non-aligned movement foreign ministers' meeting.
Arafat has unleashed a scathing verbal attack on the Israeli
government. Speaking through an interpreter, Arafat blasted
Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements around Jerusalem and its
"Military troops are now surrounding the Palestinian cities and
towns. This, in fact, is tantamount to a declaration of war, not
only against the Palestinian people, it is a declaration of war
against the peace process."
Arafat spoke at a meeting in New Delhi of foreign ministers
from the 113-nation Non-Aligned Movement, which has long backed
the Palestinian cause. He is asking the group to support a special
United Nations General Assembly session on the Middle East crisis.
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