Related Stories Netanyahu, Arafat Shake Hands On Hebron Accord - Jan. 15, 1996

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Clinton Praises Hebron Agreement

'Another Step Closer' To A Mideast Peace, He Says

Mideast peace graphic

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 15) -- President Bill Clinton quickly praised the new Hebron agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, saying it means a prompt Israeli troop redeployment and a renewed Palestinian commitment to fight terrorism.

"Today's agreement is not an end in itself," Clinton told reporters in Washington, adding that "active and continuous cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian officials" was needed.

"The U.S. will do all it can to help," he said. "We will do everything we can to build a just and durable peace."

In a statement, Clinton said the Israelis and the Palestinians have shown again they can resolve their differences by finding ways to address each other's concerns. The latest agreement "brings us another step closer to a lasting, secure Middle East peace," Clinton said.

Arafat, Ross and Netanyahu

The deal gives Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority control of Hebron, where 400 militant settlers live among 120,000 Palestinians.

In Washington, administration officials say the president offered some ideas of his own to try to move the talks over the future of Hebron and also got regular updates from U.S. special envoy Dennis Ross during the last few days. Officials would not describe though what those ideas were, but say they both involved trying to encourage the parties to reach an agreement as well as broaching some ideas.

National Security Adviser-designate Sandy Berger says the president's role throughout the negotiations over Hebron was "indispensable."

The president took a phone call from Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informing him about their deal about 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Both Arafat and Netanyahu are expected to meet seperately with the president in Washington in the coming months, but no dates are set.

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