Arafat calls on U.S. to do more for peace in Mideast PLO leader says Clinton should support creation of a Palestinian state

September 21, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

CAIRO, Egypt -- Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, said yesterday that the United States should do more to rescue the quest for a broader Middle East peace, and he called on the Clinton administration to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

Addressing a gathering of foreign ministers at the Arab League, Arafat said it was vital that the United States renew its efforts "to overcome obstacles" that have left peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians frozen for more than six months.

Arafat also dismissed as "a farce" the step taken by the Israeli government in recent days to ease a controversy in Ras al-Amoud, the district in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem where Jewish settler families took over two houses in a move financed by a American Jewish millionaire.

The United States had expressed approval of the Israeli initiative, which has seen the families replaced by Jewish seminary students who have been designated by Israel to act as guards and maintenance men for the property owned by the American millionaire, Irving Moskowitz.

But Arafat, who has long called for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, told the foreign ministers gathered for a two-day meeting that he regarded that plan as just a ploy "for Israel to set up a base for settlers."

He found much support from the Arab ministers, who joined him in blaming Israel for the dismal state of efforts to establish a wider peace in the region.

Egypt's foreign minister, Amr Moussa, told reporters after a preliminary session late Friday night that the ministers had reached "a consensus that Israel's policies, particularly in Jerusalem, cannot be accepted, and that the peace process has malfunctioned because of Israeli intransigence."

Arafat met with the ministers for more than five hours on Friday and then addressed their meeting yesterday morning.

His remarks were his most extensive in public since U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visited the region this month, and they made clear his continued dismay at what he regards as an absence of U.S. evenhandedness.

Albright told reporters on her way back to Washington that the crisis of confidence between Israel and the Palestinians was even graver than she had expected.

A new round of discussions between Israelis and Palestinians is to be held in Washington on Tuesday, to be followed later in the month by discussions between Albright and the Israeli and Syrian foreign ministers.

In his speech at the Arab League headquarters, Arafat made plain that he had welcomed Albright's visit but still expected more from the United States.

Pub Date: 9/21/97

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