Arafat to discuss Wye with Barak

AFTER A week of recrimination and skirmishes, Israelis and the Palestinians drew back from the brink yesterday, opening the way for peace negotiations to resume this week.

The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat welcomed anoffer from Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, to start implementing the Wye Agreement next month and to withdraw occupying forces from another slice of the West Bank from 1 October. The American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has postponed a planned mediating mission to give the two sides a chance to solve their differences alone.

Under the Wye accord, signed last autumn, Israel undertook to pull back from 13.2 per cent of the territory, but Benjamin Netanyahu's right- wing government froze the deal after ceding the first 2 per cent. While reiterating his commitment to honour Wye, Mr Barak tried to persuade Mr Arafat to revise the map and incorporate the final stage of withdrawal in a definitive peace agreement.

The Palestinians insisted, however, that Israel must implement Wye to the letter. On Friday, their spokesman said:"We will not begin to negotiate the final-status arrangement before the full implementation of the interim agreements."

After Mr Barak's more conciliatory statement in an interview with army radio yesterday, Mr Arafat told reporters in Gaza: "We welcome this. They had promised implementing in August, but if they say September, we agree to this." Mr Arafat warned the new Prime Minister that the Palestinians would be distressed if he did little more than set the clock ticking in September. He demanded speedy action on such issues as the release of Palestinian prisoners and the green light for a long-delayed sea port in Gaza.

As frustration grew last week, Palestinian authorities encouraged protesters to take to the streets and challenge Israeli troops, who responded with rubber-coated bullets.

On Saturday about 4,000 of Mr Arafat's Fatah activists demonstrated in Gaza. The Palestinian leader told them: "Step by step, stone by stone, we will rebuild the independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem."

Israeli intelligence officers believe the Palestinian leadership is signalling that the alternative to progress is confrontation. The young heirs of the intifada do not limit themselves to stones. Two Israeli settlers were shot and wounded in Hebron last Tuesday. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, said it had carried out the attacks.

At midnight on Saturday, the Israeli army lifted both a curfew and a closure that had been imposed on the section of the West Bank town of Hebron under its control. The curfew had confined the 30,000 Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled part of the town to their homes and prevented them from entering or leaving Hebron since Tuesday night.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'