Violence Cuts Short Mideast Peace Talks
Compiled From News Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Syria, Jordan and Lebanon have cut short their peace talks with Israel because of the massacre of 39 people in the mosque in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, U.S. officials said Sunday.
At the same time, the Palestinians are weighing an invitation to move their talks with Israel from Egypt to Washington.
A U.S. official said the Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese delegations had decided Friday to return home from Washington. "We understand they are calling off the last three days of talks (in this round of negotiations), basically on the ground that the atmosphere is not right. They wanted things to cool down a bit," the official said.
But he added that there was no suggestion that the talks were being abandoned. "It's clearly not permanent," he said.
An Israeli official said the Arab decision disappointed Israel. "We thought we were achieving some progress, and these talks were separate from developments elsewhere. We're sorry to find out we were wrong," the Israeli said. Both the U.S. and Israeli officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
The negotiations with Syria have been moving slowly. The key issues are Israel's quest for peace and Syria's attempt to recover the Golan Heights.
The talks with Jordan were mostly marking time. The two sides had all but agreed on a framework for peace, but King Hussein was waiting for the Palestinians and the Syrians to make similar headway.
Israel's talks with Lebanon concerned peace prospects. Lebanon takes its cues from Syria.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization weighed the U.S. invitation to move their separate negotiations to Washington - an invitation extended shortly after Friday's massacre. These talks are aimed at completing an agreement to establish Palestinian self-rule in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho.
President Bill Clinton announced Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat had agreed to move the talks to Washington. U.S. officials said then that the negotiations would begin early this week.
But the Palestinians now appear to be wavering, and the U. …