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Barak preparing to depart from Camp David without deal
CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) -- The Mideast peace summit at Camp David appeared to reach its endgame on Wednesday as an Israeli source said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was prepared to depart without an agreement.
"We are preparing to leave this evening," the source told CNN. "Right now, without an agreement ... because after serious discussions we discovered the other side did not act like real partners for peace."
U.S. President Bill Clinton had already delayed by a day his departure for an economic summit in Japan to spend more time on the talks, which aimed to bring Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to an agreement in time for a September 13 deadline.
Clinton had been scheduled to leave Washington about 9 a.m. Wednesday, but now is not expected to leave until Thursday. He is expected to attend the Group of Eight meeting.
Another source close to the negotiations said the delay in Clinton's departure for Japan "should not signal that there is an agreement" and that the main problem continues to be Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want to locate their capital in Jerusalem, while the Israelis staunchly say the ancient city will remain solely and forever in Israeli hands.
Israeli sources also warned the Palestinians not to take any unilateral actions or call for violence.
A U.S. official familiar with the talks told CNN that the Americans were "aware of what (the Israelis) are saying, less aware of what they are doing."
That official noted that Barak and Arafat had said all along they would leave when Clinton left.
A second senior official said the positioning was no surprise.
"Both parties will over the next several hours position themselves for failure and if they feel the need, just as aggressively position themselves for success," he said.
This official noted that earlier in the week the Palestinians accused the Israelis of not negotiating in good faith, and also threatened to pull out of the talks.
"It's the last day, there is going to be a lot of this," this official said.
Parties addressing tough issues
"There is not an open-ended or unlimited amount of time," Lockhart said Tuesday in a briefing. "People have been ... up most of the night for the last three nights, so you can expect that they're tired. But they're staying at it."
Asked if Clinton was ready for another long night of talks, Lockhart said, "Yes."
Asked if the talks were in crisis, Lockhart said, "I wouldn't use that phrase. Obviously, there are very difficult issues in front of them, but the parties are continuing to work at them."
'They are still working'
"Both sides came here with a real sense that they wanted to reach an agreement," Lockhart said. "They have spent a lot of time together, they have spent very little time sleeping. There are 52 years of debate behind them, so the atmosphere, at times, has been tense, but they are still working at it."
Lockhart, who has been the primary briefer during White House news conferences at the talks, has spent more than a week declining to answer questions that go to the substance of the talks. He didn't change his position Tuesday afternoon.
Asked if there had been any progress in the talks, he replied, "I think I've managed to avoid trying to characterize on that particular question for eight days now, and I won't start now."
Asked if either side had threatened to walk out, he quipped, "boy, it'd be a long walk. You'd have to go all the way down the mountain ..."
Talks 'hit a snag'
Clinton met Tuesday with Palestinian leader Arafat for just over an hour, Lockhart said, and he predicted the president would meet again with both Mideast leaders before the night ended.
A breakthrough in the arduous process seemed unlikely as the clock ticked to Clinton's originally scheduled departure.
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian sources told CNN the peace talks had "hit a snag" over the issue of Jerusalem.
Asked whether that was the case, Lockhart said only that the talks were focused on the core issues.
Those issues are the borders of a Palestinian state, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the fate of Jewish settlements and the future of Jerusalem.
Palestinian sources said that, unless things change on Jerusalem, efforts to reach a full agreement at this summit are over.
But some involved in the process are still hopeful a deal may be struck before the president leaves.
"We want a deal," said National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley on Monday. "They're here. They're engaged. There's no time like the present."
Knesset speaker Avraham Burg said from Jerusalem on Tuesday that he had spoken with Barak by phone, and that the talks had reached "a moment of truth."
"The perfect description of where we are now is the eye of the storm ... so many whirlwinds around, but it's a very quiet moment because it is a moment of truth," the Knesset speaker said. "Now everything is on the table. Now they are touching a lot of sacred issues ... Therefore it's impossible to predict now where the face of the storm is going."
White House expects Mideast peace summit to 'wrap up' by Wednesday
The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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