Netanyahu, Arafat shake hands on Hebron accord
Signing comes after arduous talks
January 14, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT)
EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Israelis and Palestinians
signed a long-delayed agreement Wednesday outlining the steps
for Israeli troop redeployment from Hebron and other parts of
the West Bank. (287K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound - U.S. mediator Dennis Ross announces the agreement)
U.S. mediator Dennis Ross announces the agreement
To listen, start a Shockwave Audio controller
The signing capped a late-night summit between Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority
President Yasser Arafat. The leaders shook hands, but neither
addressed reporters after their 90-minute meeting.
U.S. Special Envoy Dennis Ross, who marshaled the talks,
stood between Netanyahu and Arafat at a news conference
immediately after the signing. Ross said they agreed on a
protocol for Hebron and also signed "a note for the record"
dealing with further West Bank pullouts and other issues.
"Taken together, these two documents represent a very
important building block in terms of developing the relations
between the two sides," Ross said, praising the "spirit of
partnership" exhibited by both sides in the protracted talks.
Both leaders spoke to President Clinton, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein after the agreement
was reached, Ross said. All three leaders have been
instrumental in Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.
The long-anticipated summit was held in a nondescript
building at the symbolic middle ground of Erez Crossing,
between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
According to information released previously by officials,
the accord says Israel is to give the Palestinians control of
80 percent of Hebron within days. Israel also agreed to roll
back its presence in the West Bank in three stages --
beginning in six weeks and ending in August 1998.
Clinton quickly praised the agreement, which he said would
mean 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
"The U.S. will do all it can to help. We will do everything
we can to build a just and durable peace."
Clinton also complimented the contributions of Hussein,
Mubarak, Ross and Secretary of State Warren Christopher in
cementing the deal.
|Ross comments on agreement|
|Difficulty of the process |
(288K/22 sec. AIFF or
Effort of both parties
(288K/22 sec. AIFF or
Lack of trust
(384K/30 sec. AIFF or
Ross told CNN he expects the final agreement to be signed
within a couple of days. It must first be voted on by the
Israeli and Palestinian cabinets.
"The development of a working relationship is the key," Ross
said. For the two sides to develop confidence in each other
is as important as any particular problem, he said.
The diplomat said the Israelis and Palestinians "did need our
help," but ultimately the agreement is their achievement.
"It's not my agreement, it's their agreement. It's not the
U.S. -- this is an agreement between the Israelis and the
More negotiations on the outstanding issues will be needed,
Ross added. The signing, by the chief negotiators for both
sides, is the first concrete step in the peace process since
Netanyahu's conservative government took office last year.
But the fact that neither Netanyahu nor Arafat talked at the
post-summit news conference suggested both may have
misgivings about each other and the deal, political analyst
Chemi Shalev said.
"Both leaders are going home -- probably they think they've
done the right thing, but they're not happy about it," Shalev
said. (283K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Netanyahu faces a potential revolt from the right, with seven
of his 18 Cabinet ministers saying they will vote against the
agreement and two more wavering. He does not have to win
their approval for the deal to go through, however.
The two sides have agreed to a timetable for a three-stage
Israeli troop withdrawal from Hebron and other West Bank
areas. Arafat agreed last weekend, under a compromise
prompted by Hussein, to let Israel push back the deadline for
completing the withdrawal from September 1997 to August 1998.
The U.S.-brokered negotiations were begun last fall to push
along the Israeli troop withdrawal from 80 percent of Hebron
that was scheduled for last March.
About 150,000 Palestinians and 450 Jewish settlers live in
Hebron, the last West Bank city under Israeli control. The
remaining Israeli troops will serve primarily as protective
forces for Jewish settlers living in the heart of the city.
Correspondents Walter Rodgers and Jerrold Kessel contributed
to this report.
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