Optimism as Middle East peace talks enter final phase
Tuesday 09 November 1999
Both sides gathered in the West Bank town of Ramallah yesterday to try to hammer out the basis of a peace agreement, finally ending a process that has stumbled along since 1993. They were keen to appear confident that they could meet an extremely optimistic time-table in which a final deal is to be signed by September next year. "It is a long road we have to cover in a very short time, but with a joint effort we can make it," said the Israeli chief negotiator, Oded Eran.
His Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Abed Rabbo - a former guerrilla fighter who has frequently been scaldingly critical of the Israelis - agreed, praising the "open and frank atmosphere" of the first 75-minute session, which was largely about setting an agenda.
But there was no escaping the scale of their task. Mr Eran is entering the process armed with four Israeli "red lines" - no return to the pre- 1967 borders, control over most Jewish settlements on the West Bank and all of Jerusalem, and no "foreign army" west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians reiterated their demand for Israeli withdrawal from all territory seized in the 1967 war, citing UN Resolution 242 - which the Israelis argue does not apply to the West Bank or Jerusalem (where the Palestinians want to establish a capital in the city's Arab east). "Withdrawal to the 4 June 1967 borders is an absolute requirement for peace," said Mr Abed Rabbo. "Without it our efforts will amount to no more than the deferral of crisis."
The meeting's schedule was unaltered by Sunday's bombing, which injured 33 people in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. No group has claimed responsibility, but Israeli police no longer believe the Islamic group, Hamas, was behind it.
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers recruited by the Shia Houthi rebels who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...