Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Seeks to Jump-Start Middle East Peace Talks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Seeks to Jump-Start Middle East Peace Talks

Article excerpt

The impasse in Middle East peace talks and sustained Palestinian rioting have pushed President Bill Clinton into a corner, testing his influence and his imagination.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due at the White House on Monday, Clinton is considering options to reopen negotiations and to raise the level of U.S. involvement.

They include inviting Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan - depending on the outcome of Hussein's prostate surgery next week - to Camp David, Md., or some other retreat where U.S. diplomats could help keep them focused. Another approach would be to send Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on her first diplomatic venture to the region. A third would be to send special U.S. envoy Dennis Ross back instead, holding Albright in reserve until the two sides modify their hard positions. White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Thursday, "We are at a moment in this process where we need some new thinking and some hard work." There has been no yielding by either Netanyahu in his determination to hold on to all of Jerusalem or by Arafat in his campaign to establish a Palestinian capital in the city. Netanyahu insists also that Arafat stop the violence and terrorism as a condition for negotiations. Clinton called on the Palestinian leader this week to show "zero tolerance" for terrorism and said Israel needed security in order to negotiate with him. The violence has persisted, challenging Arafat's image as a peacemaker and Clinton's ability to shape events in the area. Similarly, Arafat says Har Homa, the new Jewish housing complex in east Jerusalem, must be halted as a condition for resuming peace talks. The Palestinians also are furious about Israel's plans for more construction on the West Bank. Clinton has criticized the housing complex in east Jerusalem as shaking the Palestinians' confidence in Israel. He may lean on Netanyahu again. Speeded-up Talks Meanwhile, Palestinian rock-throwers are keeping up the pressure on Israel while terrorists keep hatching plots to kill Israeli soldiers and civilians. …

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