Palestinian negotiators walked out late Monday on talks dealing
with Israel's scheduled withdrawal from Hebron.
The walkout followed an announcement by Dennis Ross, the U.S.
mediator, that he was returning to Washington, having failed in 15
days to achieve a breakthrough.
Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian negotiator, referred to Israel's
Dan Shomron, a former Israeli army chief, saying, "Unfortunately
the head of the Israeli delegation treats the Palestinian
negotiators as if he is a military leader and not as a negotiator."
Moshe Fogel, an Israeli government spokesman, said the
Palestinians seemed angry, "but we believe these are delaying
The latest talks began in response to a plea from President
Bill Clinton following a week of violence in which Palestinian
police and Israeli soldiers opened fire on one another, killing 79
people. At a meeting in Washington last month, the two sides agreed
to negotiate non-stop until they reached agreement.
The two sides have held marathon sessions to close a deal on a
long-promised Israeli troop pullout from Hebron, the last and most
sensitive of seven West Bank towns and cities scheduled to be
handed over to the Palestinians under a 1995 agreement. Both Israel
and the Palestine Liberation Organization have accused each other
Palestinian officials said after Monday's walkout that Shomron
had insisted on discussing Israeli proposals already rejected by
the Palestinians. One PLO official said the Palestinian delegates
had gone to Bethlehem to brief Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
on the talks.
Splits Among Israelis Fogel, the Israeli spokesman, said the
Palestinians walked out after the Israelis refused to re-negotiate
aspects of the agreement that had been worked out in recent
negotiations. A separate committee working on civilian aspects of
the new Hebron arrangement was still meeting, he said.
The Associated Press said the Palestinians had broken off the
talks several times to consult with Arafat, each time returning to
The PLO official, who declined to be identified by name, said
the delay in reaching agreement was due to splits among the Israeli
delegation, which includes both political and military negotiators.
Dahlan, the Palestinian negotiator, said earlier Monday that there
was still no agreement on such major security issues as Israel's
demand for a right of hot pursuit into areas due to be handed over
to Palestinian police.
Ross, the U.S. mediator, insisted that there had been progress
in the latest round of talks - just not enough.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said: "Mr. Ross
has been talking about progress since the first day he got here. …