Rifkind urges Israel to reduce Hebron presence
Monday 04 November 1996
Mr Rifkind, the senior European politician to visit Hebron, told Mustafa Natshe, the mayor, that Britain was committed to "the self-determination of the Palestinian people" and that "all [Israeli] settlements are illegal". Israeli withdrawal was necessary for the peace process to retain credibility.
Mr Rifkind's visit is part of increased diplomatic pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, since a day of fighting in September left 60 Palestinians and 15 Israelis dead. Mr Rifkind said Mr Netanyahu had assured him Israel would implement other parts of the interim deal with the Palestinians signed last year, in addition to that relating to Hebron.
Palestinians want to force Israel to transfer three more instalments of territory, as previously agreed. That would make it more difficult for Israel to isolate the small enclaves which the Palestinians already rule.
Mr Rifkind's visit, while less combative than that last month by President Jacques Chirac of France, emphasises Mr Netanyahu's diplomatic isolation. In Hebron he said "the option of a Palestinian state must be available". He then left for Gaza, where he was due to meet Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.
Mr Netanyahu has accused Mr Arafat of delaying agreement on Hebron in the hope of greater American pressure on Israel after the presidential election.
In addition to Israel withdrawing from most of Hebron, Palestinians want agreements implemented to release prisoners and open a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza. The deal on Hebron may be signed at the Middle East economic summit in Cairo on 12 November.
It is feared Israeli settlers in Hebron will attack Palestinians to sabotage the agreement. Near Kiryat Arba, the Jewish settlement overlooking the city, settlers yesterday threw petrol bombs at a Palestinian house, setting it ablaze and injuring five people, one critically, family members said.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 1 Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...