Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Israelis, Palestinians Confident Snag Will Not Sink Pact

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Israelis, Palestinians Confident Snag Will Not Sink Pact

Article excerpt

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators ran into trouble Wednesday trying to work out a formula for mutual recognition.

Israeli officials said the Palestine Liberation Organization was balking at Israel's demands for unambiguous recognition and for renunciation of key sentences in the PLO's founding covenant of 1964.

Israeli and Palestinian officials said their agreement in principle on Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho was ready to sign. But they said the signing was being held up by snags on separate statements providing for mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO.

Neither side described the problems as insurmountable. They said they were arguing over words, not concepts.

"It is going to happen," said one Israeli official. "People have come too far at this point to let one or two words scuttle this thing. I don't know if it is going to take one day, or two days, or 20 days to work out, but this is where we are going."

Israel and the PLO drew up the accord on self rule in secret talks in Norway and want to sign it in public in Washington. But a signing would be awkward if they do not publicly recognize each other first.

Israeli officials say that, if the two sides cannot agree on recognition in the near future, Israel would be ready to sign the accord anyway. But instead of signing it with the PLO, the Israelis would have it signed by the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks in Washington. It is unclear that the PLO leadership would go along with that.

"There are two possibilities," Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday on CNN. "One is to sign an agreement just on the declaration of principles, and that can be done as early as next week. . . .

"Then there is a second possibility, and that is that the PLO will decide to change its character, to stop being a terroristic organization, and to start becoming a political body. Then maybe the persons that may sign will be changed. It's a matter, I don't think, that will take too long time."

Israel wants the PLO to:

Recognize Israel.

Renounce violence against Israelis inside and outside the occupied territories. …

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