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World - Middle East

Israel accepts Arafat's clarification of comments

Netanyahu's Cabinet to debate interim accord

November 17, 1998
Web posted at: 8:58 a.m. EST (1358 GMT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has met Israel's demands for a retraction of statements alluding to a possible resumption of an armed struggle between the two sides, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.

However, Netanyahu adviser David Bar-Illan said this did not mean that Israel would automatically begin withdrawing its troops from another 13 percent of West Bank land, as agreed to in the land-for-security accord signed by Netanyahu and Arafat last month in Maryland.

The Israeli Cabinet was to meet Thursday to decide whether the Palestinians had complied with all obligations they were supposed to fulfill in the first two weeks of implementation of the Wye River agreement.

In a radio address to the Palestinian people on Sunday, Arafat said, "Our guns are ready" if anyone tries to hinder Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.

But the Palestinian Authority president, speaking at a news conference in the West Bank town of Jericho on Tuesday, said: "I ... reiterate that any problems concerning final-status negotiations will be resolved through amicable and peaceful ways and through negotiations, but not through any other means."

Struggle for Peace
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    The final-status talks referred to by Arafat are to address such controversial issues as the status of Jerusalem, which Israel says will remain undivided, but which Palestinians would like to see as the capital of an independent state of Palestine.

    Bar-Illan said Arafat's clarification of his earlier remarks met all three of Israel's demands: "That only negotiations can bring about a final-status agreement, that there will be no resorting to 'any other way,' which to us means that he is disavowing any use of violence or threats of violence. And lastly, there is a promise here to continue cooperating in the war against terrorism."

    Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.

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