Peace process 'under threat'

Palestinian leaders yesterday warned President George Bush that he will destroy the peace process if he releases loan guarantees for Israel without assurances of a total settlement freeze from the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

In what was a generally sceptical reaction to Mr Rabin's inaugural speech on Monday and his offer of a partial freeze on settlements, the Palestinians did not, however, rule out a positive response to the new leader's invitation to informal talks in Jerusalem. Faisal al-Husseini, the non- elected Palestinian leader in the occupied territories, said he would await a direct invitation.

The warning on settlements was clearly aimed at pre-empting any early rapprochement between Israel and the United States.

The Palestinian leadership appeared anxious to separate the new Prime Minister's rhetoric from the substance of what he was offering to concede. There appears to be concern that the US, pleased as it clearly is with Mr Rabin's significant shift in tone on the peace talks, may try to steamroller the Palestinians into accepting terms which fall well short of their often repeated demands.

While accepting that there were positive elements in Mr Rabin's speech - and declaring themselves ready to meet Mr Rabin's deadline of six to nine months for self-rule 'with Israeli goodwill' - the leaders also emphasised the 'discouraging' aspects of the speech. In particular, Mr Rabin's refusal to offer a total settlement freeze and end land expropriation was 'not encouraging'.

In a clear plea to the US not to shift its backing for a total settlement freeze, Haider Abdelshafi, head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation, said the freeze on loan guarantees had been intended to convey the message that continued building of settlement is 'incompatible with the prospects for peace'. He added: 'If the US is going to go back on that it will now convey the opposite message. It will legitimise the settlement process. This is going to destroy the peace process.'

The Palestinian leaders also reacted angrily to Mr Rabin's total refusal to discuss the status of Jerusalem within the context of the peace negotiations. The limits placed by Mr Rabin on the scope of the new round of talks 'does not leave much room for negotiation', said Dr Abdelshafi.

DAMASCUS - Syria accused Mr Rabin yesterday of pursuing 'an aggressive and expansionist' policy like his predecessor Yitzhak Shamir but in a different shape. The comment came in the official daily Tishreen, which reflects government thinking, Reuter reports.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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