JERUSALEM (Jan. 6)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sticking by his assertion that the peace process will proceed only if the Palestinians clamp down on terror.
The premier called on the Palestinians to fulfill their obligations under already-signed accords when he met Tuesday with U.S. Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross.
Ross arrived in the region to prepare the ground for separate meetings Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat are slated to hold later this month in Washington with President Clinton.
Along with pressing the Palestinians to fight terror, Ross is reportedly seeking from Netanyahu a commitment to turn over to the Palestinian Authority some 10 percent to 15 percent of the West Bank in a further redeployment of Israeli troops.
Last month, the United States gave Israel a three-week “reprieve” before making a concrete proposal in order to allow Netanyahu to first pass the state budget.
The Knesset passed the budget Monday — a day after Foreign Minister David Levy submitted his resignation, saying he could no longer accept the government’s “insensitive” stand on social issues and the slow pace of the peace process.
Netanyahu has insisted that his coalition, which now has a 61-59 majority in the Knesset, is as stable as ever.
Despite speculation that hard-liners and religious parties in the government have gained more weight in the coalition, Netanyahu has said that he intends to continue negotiating with the Palestinians.