One day before Israeli troops are scheduled to begin to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat were slated to meet in Cairo.
Nabil Sha’ath, chief Palestinian negotiator at the Cairo talks between Israel and the PLO, announced Thursday in the Egyptian capital that a Rabin-Arafat meeting would take place Sunday.
But sources on both sides admitted the withdrawal deadline was growing increasingly unlikely, as the talks being held in the Egyptian capital were at an impasse on several issues.
Negotiators ended their ninth round of talks Thursday with no conclusive progress made.
The sticking points are the size of the Jericho area that will fall under Palestinian authority, who will control the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt and between Jericho and Jordan, and the size of the Israeli forces that will be left in the regions to protect Israeli settlers.
Even if a withdrawal of Israeli troops does not begin as scheduled, it is likely that Israel will make some symbolic gesture to demonstrate its commitment to the accord.
But feelings of optimism were dampened as violent incidents occurred again Thursday, the day marking the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the Palestinian uprising.
As a general strike was carried out to mark the anniversary, violent attacks in the West Bank and Gaza went on in a manner reminiscent of the years of upheaval of the intifada.
ARAFAT AND PERES DISCUSS BORDERS
A 51-year-old Palestinian farmer was shot dead in his field near the West Bank town of Ramallah, and Palestinians said he had been attacked by Jewish settlers.
In Gaza, two Arabs stabbed an Israeli woman while she was working in a greenhouse.
Rabin has been maintaining that a delay in implementing the accord is less significant than reaching a complete understanding of its terms.
The accord provided for an Israeli troop withdrawal to begin Dec. 13 and end by April 13.
Meanwhile, Arafat met Thursday with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in Granada, Spain, where both were attending a U.N. symposium on building Middle East peace.
During their hour-long meeting, they reportedly discussed the issue of border crossings.
Peres has previously said that Israel refuses to compromise on this point, which he calls a top security priority.
Meanwhile, the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement, which claims responsibility for the deaths of 11 Israelis since the agreement was signed in Washington three months ago, has pledged to continue its campaign of violence against Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin this week decried the protests against the Israel-PLO accord being made by both Israeli settlers and Palestinians. He called it imperative that progress be made in the Cairo negotiations.
Beilin said the government would not bend to those opposing the accord, but would try to “intensify the talks and implement them as soon as possible.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.