West Bank deal will give PLO wider rule

Peres and Arafat succeed in hammering out autonomy agreement, but Palestinians pay for their dependence on Israel

After more than 20 hours of negotiations, spread over four days, Israeli and Palestinian leaders last night reached a partial agreement on the extension of Palestinian self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, said an agreement had been initialled. "But we still have some points left to sub-committees to continue,'' Mr Arafat said.

Details were to be released shortly, but officials said Hebron, the only town with Jewish settlers living in it, was one of the issues to be fully worked out by the sub-committees.

The two men had returned to the negotiating table last night in the Egyptian resort of Taba, with Israeli sources predicting a deal on most, if not all, of the outstanding issues. The announcement was made shortly before 3am local time.

They had met earlier for more than five hours, then discussed texts with their respective military and legal teams.

The Palestinian spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, said the biggest obstacle remained Israel's reluctance to evacuate its troops from Hebron, where 450 Jewish settlers live in the midst of more than 100,000 Palestinians. Mr Kanafani insisted that Hebron had to be treated like any other West Bank town: "One hundred thousand Palestinians cannot be held hostage to 450 Jews."

The Palestinians were making withdrawal of Israeli troops from the main population centres a condition for holding elections to their ruling council. Israel has agreed to leave six other Arab towns, but said it must retain a military presence in Hebron to protect the settlers.

Mr Peres was more hopeful. "We have agreed on most of the issues," he said as he re-entered the negotiating room on the tenth floor of the Hilton hotel, "but once you start writing things down, you reopen the story.''

It had earlier been reported that Israel had shown flexibility over land and water, which matter most to the Palestinians, in return for Palestinian flexibility on security for Israel.

Israel radio said the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, talked by telephone with Mr Peres and Mr Arafat yesterday, and agreed the setting up of a joint US-Israeli-Palestinian group to recommend an equitable division of water resources.

Robert Fisk, page 15

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Sales Advisor - £35,000 OTE

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Advisor is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Contact Centre Advisor

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the UK's leading accident an...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003