Hurdles block way to final peace

Once the Hebron redeployment is out of the way, Israel and the Palestinians will present competing shopping lists for continuing the shambling Oslo peace process.

The negotiations promise to be as slow, as grudging and as volatile as those over Hebron - the City of the Patriarchs - which dragged on for nine months beyond the March redeployment deadline.

An Israeli political science professor, Yaron Ezrahi, has dubbed Oslo a "peace of attrition". Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat seem bent on proving him right.

Each leader is determined to extract the maximum advantage for the lowest price. Each is looking over his shoulder at a sceptical constituency that needs to be convinced that he is not selling out. Since Mr Netanyahu's coalition of right-wing and religious parties came to power last June, there has been little of the goodwill, or the enthusiasm, that carried the previous Labour government through recurrent crises.

At the top of the Palestinian agenda is a further Israeli redeployment from rural areas on the West Bank which remained under Israel's military supervision after the two previous withdrawals. This evacuation ought to have started in September 1996, but in practice nothing moved.

The "Oslo II" agreement, exactly one year earlier, established the principle of further withdrawals, but left the details to be negotiated. Mr Arafat has tried to link the Hebron deal to a timetable for the West Bank villages. The next few weeks will prove whether he succeeded.

The Palestinians are also clamouring for the release of about 6,000 Arab security prisoners, including a handful of women, still in Israeli jails. Mr Netanyahu has undertaken gradually to free all those who have not murdered Israelis.

The Palestinians want Israel to fulfil its pledge to open a "safe passage" route for Palestinian traffic between the autonomous regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The black-and-white signs have been in place for two years, but the Israelis have not worked out how to allow vehicles to flow without enabling suicide bombers to get into Israel. Lower down the list, the Palestinians want to operate an airport in the Gaza strip. Up to now, Israel has stood by its right under the Oslo accords to control the Palestinian borders. If the airport is to open, Israel will need to be sure it does not serve as an arms gateway. Similar reservations apply to a new port the Palestinians want to build in Gaza.

On their side, the Israelis are insisting that Mr Arafat extradite Palestinian gunmen who attack Israelis and shelter under the Palestinian flag in Jericho or Gaza. Palestinian spokesmen maintain that Oslo allows them to arrest and try the offenders themselves, which they have done.

Mr Netanyahu is still pressing Mr Arafat to repudiate the clauses in the 1964 Palestinian National Covenant which call for the destruction of the Jewish state. The PLO leader has said since 1993 that the clauses were null and void, but the Israeli right is not satisfied.

More tangibly, Israel is demanding that the Palestinian Authority disarm the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front militias, which persist in waging the old "armed struggle" from within Palestinian territory.

And after that, the two sides can get down to negotiating the "final status" of Jerusalem and the 127 West Bank and Gaza Jewish settlements; compensation for the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 and 1967 wars and Palestinian sovereignty.

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

Guru Careers: Account Manager

£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor - Automotive

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary - Family Law

£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing professional legal pr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Java

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting and disruptive co...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935