Barak reported to have accepted Palestine deal

MIGHTY GAPS separate the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who will together hold talks with Bill Clinton in Oslo today, but they may have reached an outline agreement in one key area as they explore the path to peace.

Analysts from both sides were giving credence to a report published yesterday in Ha'aretz, an influential Israeli newspaper, which stated that Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, would accept the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a framework agreement due to be signed with Yasser Arafat in February.

The newspaper said that the condition was worked out during informal contacts between Israel, the United States and the Palestinian Authority before the start of the two-day summit in Norway, which opened yesterday and which will today climax with a three-way meeting between Mr Arafat, Mr Barak and Mr Clinton.

The state, within part of the occupied territories, would not finally come into existence until the eve of the signing of a final agreement. Under the agreed timetable, this is scheduled for next September although, in reality, it is a remote prospect because of the areas of outstanding disagreement. Israel, the report states, would rather do a deal with a recognised state than a temporary entity.

While there may be broad consensus in principle over Palestinian statehood, the same cannot be said of the bulk of Mr Barak's other negotiating positions. So wide is the gap that the Palestinian chief negotiator, Yasser Abbed Rabbo - who is generally disliked by the Israelis - is rumoured to have taken to referring to the Israeli premier as "Barak-yahu", after his intransigent right-wing predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Barak's so-called "red line" terms include no withdrawal to Israel's 1967 borders; the right of Jewish settlers living in occupied territories to remain under Israeli control; and the denial of any right of return for Palestinian refugees from 1948 driven out with the creation of Israel.

Above all, Israel remains as immovable as ever on an undivided Jerusalem - a burning issue among both the Israeli public and the Palestinians, who also want to establish their own capital in the city, with access to Islamic holy sites.

The difficulty of surmounting these differences was evident yesterday in the guarded remarks of the players as they convened in Oslo, hoping against the odds to reignite some of the optimism on Middle Eastern affairs that the city has yielded before.

Oslo was the scene of the secret talks that led to the 1993 peace accords; a year later, it played host to Mr Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin when they received the Nobel peace prize.

In search of new hope, the ghost of Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated four years ago, has been summoned up again in Oslo, with a memorial service today in his name.

Mr Barak suggested that another summit might be held in forthcoming weeks to work out the framework agreement - prompting speculation that the US President may stage a meeting in January akin to the Camp David summit in 1978, which resulted in Israel's first treaty with an Arab state, Egypt.

The American President dismissed the idea as "premature", but did not rule it out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
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: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'