Rabin says peace accord may take another month

February 11, 1994|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau of The Sun

JERUSALEM -- Israel will not begin its withdrawal from Jericho and the Gaza Strip until all the details of the move are negotiated with Palestinians, officials here said yesterday.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that the process may take "another month." Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in Amman, Jordan, that the work could be completed by "the end of the month."

In another development, Israeli police said that Palestinian opponents of the peace plan were suspected of killing two Israelis yesterday. The body of a 75-year-old farmer was found bludgeoned in a citrus grove south of Tel Aviv, and the bullet-ridden car of a taxi driver was found abandoned near Be'er Sheva.

Islamic Jihad claimed to have kidnapped and killed the taxi driver, whose body had not been found as of last evening. There was no claim of responsibility for the farmer's death.

Mr. Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres signed documents in Cairo last night that set out an agreement on who has what powers on the borders and roads of the occupied territories.

Their agreement also called for Israeli withdrawal from a Jericho district of 21 square miles, though the actual boundaries must be approved by Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat.

Israeli officials acknowledged yesterday that many other issues remain to be settled.

Those include customs procedures for goods coming in and out of the Palestinian autonomous areas, trade rules, economic development and procedures for transferring civil authority to Palestinians.

Uri Savir, director general of the Foreign Ministry, said of the RTC issues settled in Cairo, "Qualitatively, these were the stumbling blocks. . . . Having moved them aside, it will make the rest easier."

But he suggested that even among those issues, there are some unknowns. In the agreement, for example, Israeli authorities will keep control of major roads in the Gaza Strip leading to Jewish settlements. But the agreement is vague on how far those authorities could chase an attacker into the Palestinian area before handing the pursuit over to the Palestinian police.

"It's the type of thing that will have to be worked out in practice," he said.

But Mr. Rabin repeated that he wants "a detailed agreement which, when it is implemented, will prevent unforeseen friction."

His estimate of a month to do that reflects Mr. Rabin's cautious approach, demanding agreement on all of the possible questions involved in the transfer of authority.

Israel was supposed to begin its withdrawal from Jericho and the Gaza Strip Dec. 13, but ignored the deadline when differences arose between the two sides over how the withdrawal and transfer of power would be handled.

The accord signed in Washington Sept. 13 called for Israel to pull out in stages from Palestinian populated areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which its military has occupied since 1967.

The agreement signed in Cairo calls for both Palestinian and Israeli officials at the borders between Jericho and Jordan, and between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. But the Israelis will have veto power over anyone trying to enter.

Israeli patrols will be on main roads leading into Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. They may be accompanied by Palestinian patrols, according to the agreement, but the Palestinians could not arrest an Israeli for wrongdoing.

"Ultimately, an arrest and trial of an Israeli can only be done by Israelis," said Mr. Savir, the Foreign Ministry director general.

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