Clinton asks Arafat to play a waiting game

BILL CLINTON meets Yasser Arafat in Washington today to try to persuade him not to declare a Palestinian state on 4 May as he has threatened to do.

President Clinton will almost certainly be successful. The Palestinian leader does not want to provoke formal Israeli annexations on the West Bank. Nor will he do anything to help Benjamin Netanyahu get re-elected as Israeli Prime Minister in the general election on 17 May. A pre-election crisis would suit the Israeli leader nicely. Instead, Mr Arafat will try to obtain the highest possible price for delaying his declaration of statehood. He wants Washington and the European states to pledge to recognise a Palestinian state in the future. He also wants permanent and effective American involvement in his negotiations with Israel. He has now seen Mr Clinton three times in the five months since the still-born Wye accords were signed last October, while Mr Netanyahu has seen Mr Clinton only once.

Israeli diplomatic sources are quoted as saying that this shows "the tremendous power Mr Arafat has come to wield in Washington". This power may be more apparent than real. With the US presidential election looming next year, the White House will not want to offend Jewish lobbying groups in the US. And while Mr Arafat is making diplomatic gains in Washington, Israel is making it more and more difficult for the reality of a Palestinian state to exist on the West Bank. The Jewish settlements continue to spread and new roads are turning Palestinian districts into isolated enclaves.

At the same time, the 2.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank have seen few gains from the Oslo accords. Their standard of living has plummeted and Mr Arafat needs to persuade them that deferring the declaration of an independent state is in their interest.

The Palestinian leadership is desperate to see the back of Mr Netanyahu in the election - an aim it shares with the White House. It knows that Mr Netanyahu could successfully play on the anxieties of the Israeli electorate if a Palestinian state is declared less than three weeks before the poll.

Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, a senior aide of Mr Arafat, said earlier in the week: "When Clinton was in Gaza in December, he said that the Palestinians have a right to exercise their political rights on their free land. We want him to go a step further now."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent