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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Envoy: Trip to Israel Yields Results

JERUSALEM -- U.S. envoy Dennis Ross said Monday his Middle East peace mission had brought Israelis and Palestinians a step closer to reviving security ties following a Jerusalem suicide attack.


Within hours of his arrival on Sunday, Ross had brought together Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli officials for the first time since two bombers killed 13 people in a market July 30, deepening a crisis in peacemaking.


"The meetings that took place last night and will be taking place are a step in the direction of re-establishing that [security] relationship," Ross told reporters after he met Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy.


PLO officials said the U.S.-Israeli-PLO meeting late Sunday -- and another set for Monday night -- enabled the sides to exchange information on the attack and to coordinate security. But a swift solution seemed unlikely.


"Until now there is no political or security achievement," Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rdainah told reporters.


A senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the meeting of Arafat and Israeli officials joined by Ross had failed to salvage peace efforts because Arafat refused to clamp down on "terrorism."


"Until now we've seen no real change on the part of the Palestinian Authority in everything that has to do with its war on terrorism," the adviser, Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh, told Israel Radio.


In Amman, the Islamic militant group Hamas warned Arafat against heeding Israeli demands to crack down on its supporters, saying such action would unleash deep Palestinian anger.


Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had growing indications that Hamas carried out the attack even though Israeli and Palestinian officials had questioned the authenticity of a Hamas claim of responsibility.


In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinian protesters marched down the main street demanding Israel free their imprisoned sons and end a closure imposed on Palestinians after the attack.


Ross said he did not expect to stay "too much longer" but did not elaborate. He has been preparing for U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's first trip to the region, expected at the end of the month provided progress is made on security.


Like Ross, European envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos shuttled between Jerusalem and the self-ruled West Bank town of Ramallah trying to ease tensions heightened by the market attack.


Moratinos met Arafat for 15 minutes in Ramallah. He told reporters the European Union would send a Swedish expert to help Palestinians fight "terrorism" -- an offer swiftly spurned.


"We do not need to learn anything from anybody. We are doing our duties and are committed to the agreements. It is Israel that has to learn to implement its commitments," said the Arafat adviser, Abu Rdainah.


Israel has accused Arafat of having a "revolving door" for militants in his prisons and has conditioned a resumption of peace talks on a clampdown.