Palestinian leaders meet to save road map

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met Tuesday with the head of Egyptian intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, as Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli officials warned that time was running out for the peace process.

    Arafat (L) with Suleiman (R): We are committed to the "road map"

    Suleiman played a major role in convincing Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other groups to declare a three-month truce which is looking shakier by the day.


    Islamic Jihad warned in a statement Tuesday that the patience of its military wing “will not last” if Israel continues to detain “Palestinian prisoners and especially detainees of Hamas and Islamic Jihad”.


    The meeting was held at Arafat’s headquarters in the West Bank city of Ram Allah and was also attended by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.


    “We stress our commitment to implementing the 'road map',” Arafat told reporters afterwards. 


    Arafat thanked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “for his continuous efforts” and also praised the work of Suleiman, “thanks to whom, Palestinian factions reached a truce,” he said.


    Talks between Arafat, Abbas and Suleiman focused on the “road map”, according to Palestinian legislator and former senior negotiator, Saeb Erakat.


    Erakat said Egypt would exert efforts to help fully implement the “road map”, including “stopping (Jewish) settlements, releasing prisoners, reopening offices in Jerusalem and putting an end to the occupation on the territories occupied (by Israel) in 1967”.


    Israeli demands


    But a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused Palestinian authorities of not doing enough to crack down on resistance groups.


    “Time is running out and until now the Palestinian Authority has not taken any decisive action. This is an opportunity for the Palestinians to make good on their declarations,” said the official.

    The spokesman was accompanying Sharon on his trip to London where the Israeli prime minister failed to convince British officials to cut ties with Arafat.


    Such a campaign to sideline the elected president would only undermine the peace process, according to Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath.


    “Peace is about inclusion, not exclusion,” Shaath said after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Kovacs in Budapest.


    “We would also have liked to exclude Sharon himself, but this is not the way to peace,” he told reporters.


    Shaath said that Arafat had the “greatest potential and capability” to make the peace process succeed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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