New optimism in Mid-East talks

(First Edition)

FOR the first time in weeks, there were signs yesterday on several fronts of progress in the search for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, although there were more expressions of hope than marks of concrete achievement.

In Israel, the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, met the visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amr Moussa. Afterwards, when asked about the Palestinian-Israel talks, Mr Rabin told reporters: 'I believe there is an improvement.' However, he warned against excessive hope. 'Allow me to be cautious, not to say that we have succeeded to overcome all the obstacles. They (the Palestine Liberation Organisation) understand that we are determined on the issue of security,' he added.

Much will depend on the outcome of the meeting scheduled between the PLO Chairman, Yasser Arafat, and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, in Davos on Sunday. Their principal negotiators - Yoel Singer, the legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Minister, and Abu Ala for the Palestinian side - are due to meet somewhere in Europe on Thursday to prepare for the Peres-Arafat meeting.

The two sides are hoping to resolve differences that held up Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area on 13 December. The main disagreements centre on border security arrangements and the size of the Jericho enclave. Discussions on these issues at the Egyptian resort at Taba have been suspended pending the Peres-Arafat meeting.

The Palestinian-Israeli talks are only one side of the picture. In Washington, talks resumed after a break of several months on the negotiations between Israel on the one hand and the Arab states - Syria, Jordan and Lebanon - separately on the other.

Agreement on the resumption of the Syrian-Israeli talks was announced after the summit in Geneva between President Bill Clinton and President Hafez al-Assad of Syria on 16 January. It was agreed that the heads of the two negotiating teams should meet and continue to meet to resolve differences. Before the meetings, however, the chief Israeli negotiator with the Syrians, Itamar Rabinovitch, said that Syria had yet to define its concept of peace in any agreement.

For his part, Mr Arafat secured something of a political rehabilitation when he was received by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh yesterday for the first time since their rift in 1990 over PLO support for Iraq during the Gulf crisis. Despite Saudi Arabia's current budgetary constraints, the meeting had considerable symbolic value as King Fahd has in the past been the most munificent of PLO paymasters. Mr Arafat flew to Riyadh after performing the umra, or minor pilgrimage, in Mecca.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam