Peace talks deadlock

President Bill Clinton's Middle East troubleshooter, Dennis Ross, held separate, last-minute talks last night with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, before flying back to Washington.

He had little to show for his four-day mission to revive the peace negotiations, beyond the establishment of a joint panel of Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs, with officials of the CIA sitting in.

That may, however, be enough for the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to launch a personal rescue initiative as promised at the end of this month.

A jaundiced Israeli official said last night that Mr Ross had only created a framework. "It has to be judged by content and results," he insisted. "Up to now, we haven't seen any concrete steps of the kind we think are vital if there is to be real co-operation against terrorism."

A summit meeting between Mr Netanyahu and King Hussein of Jordan earlier yesterday in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba was equally unproductive.

The Israeli leader rejected a Jordanian call to ease restrictions on 2 million West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, imposed after the 30 July suicide bombing in a Jerusalem market, which killed 14 Israeli civilians. He said Israel had intelligence information that further attacks were being planned.

Mr Netanyahu also declined to hand over tax revenues, collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, now estimated to be running at about $135m. Mr Arafat has had to raise bank loans to pay police and civil service salaries.

In another flexing of muscles, Israeli bulldozers have this week demolished 10 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, alleged to have been built without permits. Mr Netanyahu reiterated his claim that Israel was not punishing the Palestinian population.

The nearest to an Israeli concession in Aqaba was the Prime Minister's most explicit pledge so far to lift sanctions step-by-step with evidence that the Palestinian Authority was keeping its word and fighting the men of violence.

King Hussein put a brave face on the continuing stalemate, saying he hoped it was a turning point towards achieving a just peace. His listeners could only pray he knew something they didn't.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview