Israelis, Palestinians Deadlocked; More Talks Due
Israeli and Arab negotiators Monday failed again to break their week-old deadlock over the status of Palestinians at the Middle East peace talks here, but they arranged more talks today despite earlier warnings from both sides that the process was nearing a breakdown.
Emerging from a three-hour session Monday that had been billed as the last chance for an agreement, the participants cooled their escalating rhetoric. The chief Palestinian delegate, Haidar Abdel-Shafi, even held out hope of a quick settlement, and Israeli representative Eli Rubinstein acknowledged that progress had been made.
It was a dramatic contrast to the angry charges exchanged earlier by Israeli and Palestinian officials, who each accused the other side of trying to torpedo the peace talks by taking intransigent positions.
At issue in the haggling in a State Department hallway is whether Israel will talk separately with Jordan and the Palestinians, even though they officially are part of a joint delegation in the negotiations.
Arab participants have claimed since the talks began here last Tuesday that Israel is being overly rigid on the issue, while the Israelis have insisted that the Palestinians are trying to change the rules for the talks.
Israel has said it will bargain separately with the Palestinians on some form of self-government for the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, but it wants the talks to be conducted under the overall supervision of the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. (Israel has been conducting separate talks with Lebanon and Syria as part of the peace process.)