- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2001

JERUSALEM The chief Palestinian negotiator said yesterday that Palestinians want a full peace treaty or nothing, dashing a U.S. push for a partial deal before President Clinton leaves office.

The declaration by negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo further dimmed prospects for a diplomatic achievement for Mr. Clinton, who finishes his term Jan. 20, and for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, trailing far behind a hard-line rival as a Feb. 6 election looms.

Meanwhile, hostilities persisted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A 70-year-old man was shot and killed on his farm near an Israeli settlement in Gaza, although the circumstances were not clear. Palestinian police said there were no clashes there. The Israeli military said soldiers did not open fire.

Israeli forces killed a 27-year-old Palestinian during a West Bank rock-throwing clash, Palestinians said. The shooting brought the death toll in violence that broke out Sept. 28 to 364, most of them Palestinians.

Also yesterday, Israeli soldiers fired warning shots toward a car carrying the second-ranking Catholic prelate in the Holy Land, Bishop Boulos Marcuzzi, his driver said. The incident took place at a roadblock near the West Bank city of Jenin. The car was not hit and no one was hurt. The military said it was investigating.

The widow of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces on Dec. 31 asked Israel's Supreme Court to order an end to what she called assassinations of local leaders.

Thabet Thabet was unarmed when he was gunned down in front of his house, according to the action filed by Mr. Thabet's widow, Siham. Mr. Thabet, a dentist, was prominent in Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction. Israel claimed he organized armed attacks.

Palestinians say Israel in recent weeks has assassinated more than a dozen Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks on Israelis.

Meanwhile, a new poll indicates that a majority of Palestinians now favor the most extreme form of violence against Israel. The survey, by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Palestinian think tank, shows that 66 percent of respondents approve of suicide bomb attacks inside Israel.

The militant Islamic Hamas claimed responsibility yesterday for a Jan. 1 bombing that injured dozens in the Israeli resort of Netanya. Hamas identified the bomber, who later died in an Israeli hospital, as a 24-year-old student from the West Bank city of Nablus.

In what might be the first step toward cooperation to stop shooting attacks and bombings, the two sides agreed yesterday to resume low-level meetings of security officials.

With no negotiations in progress, Mr. Barak mentioned the possibility of a Clinton presidential statement to sum up the talks so far. The United States is cool to the idea, according to a U.S. official who insisted on anonymity. First, he said, the two sides must come to an agreement.

U.S. mediator Dennis Ross is expected tomorrow for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Mr. Ross plans one last try to see what can be achieved in the time remaining, the official said.

The Palestinians, however, are not interested in any more interim steps, Mr. Abed Rabbo wrote in a two-page explanation of the Palestinian negotiating position.

"Peace cannot be declared, it must be achieved," he wrote.

In meetings last month with negotiators from both sides, Mr. Clinton suggested setting up a Palestinian state in 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and a disputed holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews. In exchange, the Palestinians would scale back their demand that all refugees and their descendants, about 4 million people, have the right to return to their homes in Israel.


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