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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arafat Blasts Israeli Plan For Hebron as 'Racism'

CAIRO, Egypt -- Despite optimistic comments from Jerusalem, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accused Israel on Wednesday of trying to cancel its agreement to redeploy troops in Hebron and replace it with new restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank city.


Arafat was visibly angry as he talked to reporters about the latest Israeli proposals.


"See the racism," he said twice, accusing Israel of trying to impose limits on the predominantly Arab part of Hebron while preserving the rights of Jewish settlers to expand their enclaves.


"What we face now, unfortunately, is a deliberate attempt to cancel what has been agreed upon," the Palestinian leader said.


Arafat spoke after he won backing from Egyptian and Jordanian leaders for his stance against renegotiating the agreement on Hebron, which is the main sticking point to revitalizing stalled peace talks.


Statements by Arafat and the other Arab leaders were at odds with reports from Jerusalem quoting Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy as saying an accord on Hebron was near.


"The situation in the talks is one of impressive progress, receptiveness on both sides, and a chance of completing the agreement within hours," Levy told parliament.


But in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Arafat, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul-Karim Kabariti agreed that Israel's latest proposals would not work.


"What we have seen from the Israeli proposals and the papers make it difficult to imagine reaching an agreement on Hebron in the upcoming short period," Moussa told reporters.


Arafat told reporters that Netanyahu's government was trying to maintain control of areas in Hebron that were to be turned over to the Palestinians under the accord with the previous Israeli government. He also complained about Israel's demand for its forces to have the right of "hot pursuit" of suspects into Palestinian areas of Hebron.


Kabariti said he still thought there was a chance for agreement through the efforts of U.S. mediator Dennis Ross -- who has been meeting with both Arafat and Netanyahu -- but also feared a new breakdown could develop.


"Without redeployment in Hebron, I think we will be having a crisis in hand," he told reporters.