Rabin says Arafat acts in bad faith

January 01, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned yesterday that if the Palestine Liberation Organization reopened negotiations on a package of compromises, everything would be on the table and previous Israeli concessions would be withdrawn.

Mr. Rabin said that a PLO rejection of the package worked out during intensive talks this week in Cairo, Egypt, would return the negotiations to their starting point.

"As long as there is no approval from [PLO headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia] . . . for the paper, which we view as a summing-up [of agreements], there is no approval from Jerusalem," Mr. Rabin said. "And, if there will be no approval from Tunis, everything we say in the paper will be open to renewed examination.

"To start now to argue about what was reached -- and some of the Palestinians try to present the paper as an Israeli proposal -- it's a total nonsense," Mr. Rabin said.

Mr. Rabin said in interviews yesterday that he was content to wait and would not be rushed into making further concessions out of fear that the current impasse in negotiations amounted to a deeper crisis.

"I would not suggest that anyone stand by with a stopwatch or even a calendar to count the days or even weeks," Mr. Rabin told the popular Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot when asked how long it might take to reach agreement. "Israel can continue with the existing reality -- we are ruling the [occupied] territories."

Saying that he had received a message from Yasser Arafat by fax yesterday, Mr. Rabin accused the PLO chairman of trying to back away from the agreement reached by Israeli and PLO negotiators in Cairo.

"The remarks of the chairman are far from anything that was discussed and agreed," Mr. Rabin told British journalists before a visit to Jerusalem next week by British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.

Israel maintains that the negotiators for the two sides reached a series of basic compromises in lengthy negotiations this week in Cairo but that the PLO is now reneging in hopes of more concessions.

The Palestinians assert that the draft joint statement reflected Israeli proposals and that, in any event, the agreement was to refer it to Tunis and Jerusalem for review and comment.

Two faxes from the PLO, one from Mr. Arafat yesterday and another from a top negotiator Thursday, reportedly put forward fundamental changes on three of the four points that have delayed the beginning of an Israeli troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, originally scheduled for Dec. 13.

The three remaining issues and the objections raised by the PLO:

* Control -- Israeli, Palestinian or joint -- of border crossings from Egypt into the Gaza Strip and from Jordan onto the West Bank.

The PLO wants separate border control points to check everyone entering and leaving its self-rule areas with only "invisible" Israeli monitoring by cameras and electronic sensors.

It rejected an Israeli proposal for one border terminal with an Israeli window and a Palestinian window separated by a glass partition, saying that those arrangements would give Israeli officials the right to inspect -- and reject -- Palestinian travelers before Palestinian officials even see them.

* The size of the autonomous Jericho area. Israel has offered an area of about 22 square miles running north, south and west of the town of Jericho.

The PLO wants a larger area that would be linked to bridges across the Jordan River.

* Security for the 5,000 Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip.

The PLO said the area connecting Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip should not exceed nine square miles.

The PLO reportedly raised no objections on a fourth issue -- continued Israeli military deployments along the frontiers between Gaza and Egypt and Jericho and Jordan.

Israeli officials dismissed as "unreasonable" the suggested changes, and Mr. Rabin indicated he would take his time in replying to Mr. Arafat's message.

The talks are to continue next week. Despite the squabbling, Mr. Rabin said he was confident such an agreement would be reached.

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