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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arafat to Reassess Peace Accord

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, frustrated by delays in his peace deal with Israel, summoned the PLO's top decision-making body to Cairo on Tuesday to reassess the accord, officials said.


The move came as Israel further eased a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, letting in about 2,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank and 1,000 from Gaza on Monday. The closure was imposed last month after Gaza suicide bombers killed 21 Israelis in Israel.


"We are committed to the peace process but at the same time we have arrived at an impasse," Arafat told reporters in Paris on Monday. "Because of this, tomorrow we will have a very important executive committee meeting in Cairo."


Officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization said Arafat asked the 18-member committee to meet in Cairo and may yet summon the central council -- a quasi-parliamentary body that sets policy -- in early March.


"The executive committee was the body that signed the peace agreement with Israel. It will not declare a war. It will take decisions to reinforce the peace process," said Palestinian Authority member Ahmed Korei.


"It will give a full reassessment of the peace process from the day of its signing until today -- what had been achieved, what are the issues which have not been carried out," he said. Arafat has been frustrated by a seven-month delay in expanding Palestinian self-rule beyond Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho to more of the West Bank.


The PLO took control of Jericho and most of the Gaza Strip last May. Israel demands the PLO crack down on militant groups attacking Israelis before it will agree to expand self-rule.


Arafat is demanding a speedy Israeli troop pullback in the West Bank before Palestinian elections, the stalled next stage of the 1993 peace deal. A meeting between Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on Saturday night failed to smooth out differences.


Executive committee members began leaving the self-rule areas for Cairo on Monday. Their meeting is the first since last November when Arafat failed to obtain a quorum. The November meeting, in Gaza, ended in disarray.


A senior PLO official in Tunis said some PLO leaders there believed the latest meeting was too hastily called. It was only scheduled late on Sunday.


"Most probably the Cairo meeting will be informal before a more decisive meeting early in March after the month of Ramadan," said the official, who asked not to be named.


Palestinian sources said that among the leaders who wanted more time were Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, who signed the 1993 PLO-Israel deal, and Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO's political department.


Also Monday, Israeli planes twice raided Hizbollah guerrilla targets in southeastern Lebanon in a second day of air attacks.


The planes fired nine rockets in two raids 30 minutes apart in the Maydoun hills, on the southern edge of the eastern Bekaa Valley, used by Hizbollah to attack Israel's occupation zone in south Lebanon. Reports said there were no casualties in the attack.