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?
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: Web Developer - PHP / MySQL / HTML / CSS

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this digital ...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Cashier

£16500 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity exists ...

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