Weizman to meet Arafat after PLO makes plea for help

Israeli accord: Netanyahu set to support Palestinian talks

President Ezer Weizman, an architect of Israel's 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, responded yesterday to a cry for help from Yasser Arafat by inviting the Palestinian leader to meet him at his private seaside villa at Caesarea in northern Israel.

The invitation appeared to spur the right-wing Likud Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu into meeting Mr Arafat as well.

Last night, Israeli radio announced: "As of now, President Weizman, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai will meet within two weeks with Yasser Arafat."

Since his election in June, the Prime Minister has prevaricated over setting a date for a meeting with the PLO leader.

A spokesman for the President told The Independent last night that the meeting with Mr Weizman would take place before the Jewish new year, which is on 14 September. Asked whether Mr Weizman would co-ordinate the arrangements with the Prime Minister, he replied: "Maybe, maybe not."

Mr Weizman's initiative places the spotlight on a growing anxiety in Israel's defence, political and media establishment that the Netanyahu government is playing for time and no longer sees a need to maintain the peace momentum. Israelis who had begun to enjoy a more open Middle East suddenly are feeling isolated.

Gideon Ezra, a Likud backbencher and former deputy chief of the Shin Bet internal security service, said yesterday: "It is time to stop playing games with the Palestinians."

The daily Ha'aretz this weekend quoted one senior security official that foot-dragging could provoke renewed attacks by Islamist fanatics. Mr Arafat was coming under increasing pressure, the official said, because of the diplomatic stagnation, the collapse of the Palestinian economy and the violation of human rights by the Palestinian police. "If his distress continues," he added, "Arafat may allow his security forces to ease up on Hamas, and he won't care if there are terror attacks."

After a hastily arranged tete-a-tete with the Prime Minister yesterday, President Weizman denied he had threatened to receive Mr Arafat this week if Mr Netanyahu did not agree to talk to PLO leader within 10 days. He also denied he was trying to take over the negotiations. But the 72- year-old President, who has been a minister under both Likud and Labour colours, was clearly in no mood to accept a prime ministerial veto, or to wait long. Mr Weizman said he had received a letter from Mr Arafat complaining about the stalled peace process. "He is in distress," the President said. "Arafat, whether we want it or not, today has control over two million people. When a leader like this asks to see me, I think I must respond to him."

Despite the unconfirmed report on Israel radio that Mr Netanyahu would meet Mr Arafat, the Prime Minister was still stonewalling. "I don't think it is worthwhile," he insisted, "to hold a meeting that is just ceremonial. When the time comes when I think there will be a purposeful meeting, it will indeed take place."

The Hebrew press, which has never been friendly to Mr Netanyahu, has become universally hostile. Yoel Marcus, Ha'aretz's widely read columnist, detected a reversion to hard-line Likud ideology, which he feared would lead to armed struggles with Palestinians and Syrians. "When the voice is the voice of Netanyahu's pragmatism," he wrote, "but the hands are the hands of a Likud ideologue, the confrontation is written on the wall." His colleague, Zvi Barel, added: "Netanyahu's government is returning Israel to the familiar situation in which it functions best: a small nation surrounded by enemies."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power