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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PLO Rejects Israeli Talks Conditions

TUNIS -- PLO leaders on Monday rejected conditions set by Israel for the resumption of talks on implementing their agreement on Palestinian self-rule.


"We reject the Israeli diktat and we wait for Israel's response to our amendments to its proposals," PLO executive committee member Suleiman Najab said. The Israelis "are responsible for the halt in negotiations," he said after a PLO executive committee meeting chaired by Yasser Arafat.


The two sides had hoped to meet in Taba, Egypt, on Monday or Tuesday to hash out issues holding up an Israeli troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.


Under the September peace accord Israel was to have started its withdrawal on Dec. 13.


Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said on Sunday that talks on how to implement the accord could resume only when the PLO agreed the basis was a document he said they had agreed on in Cairo last week.


"We will let them sweat," he is reported as telling the Israeli cabinet.


"A promise is a promise," said Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who led the delegation to the Cairo talks last week. "You can argue until an agreement is reached. After there is agreement you have to stick to it."


Israel maintains both sides approved the paper. The PLO said it was a draft and it did not agree to all points.


"There is no agreement called the Cairo agreement," Najab said. "It is an Israeli draft which was submitted to the Palestinian leadership," he said. The PLO proposed amendments, he added.


Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, on a visit to Amman, backed the PLO, saying the Cairo talks produced a proposal but not an agreement.


The Israelis "have imposed on us their occupation (of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) during 27 years, but they cannot impose on us a paper they have drafted," Najab said.


Najab said amendments proposed to Israel concerned checkpoints on borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and between the Jericho area and Jordan, and Israel's withdrawal from parts of Jericho. These are key issues that frustrated negotiators in previous rounds of talks in Norway and France.


In a meeting with Spain's Foreign Minister Javier Solana on Sunday night Arafat denounced what he called "obstacles and difficulties placed by Israel in front of the (self-rule) agreement."


He also denounced "continuous changing interpretations Israel gives to the clauses of the agreement, a fact which makes the negotiations stall," the Palestinian news agency Wafa said.