- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

NEW YORK President Clinton told the people of Israel yesterday that their land is also the Palestinians' homeland, and "there is no choice but for you to divide this land into two states for two peoples."

Mr. Clinton, who leaves office in less than two weeks, also urged the Palestinians in a major address to find the courage to accept his framework for a negotiated settlement and "not hold out for the impossible more."

Israel yesterday accused a militia affiliated with Yasser Arafat's political faction of carrying out a bus bombing in Tel Aviv 10 days ago a move certain to add fuel to Prime Minister Ehud Barak's contention that the Palestinian leader is to blame for attacks against Israelis.

The comments came as top Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Cairo with the American CIA chief to try to come to terms over Israel's demand that violence must be reined in before any talks on U.S. peace proposals can resume.

In new violence yesterday in the Middle East, a young Palestinian woman was killed, a 10-year-old boy was critically injured and a Palestinian man suffered multiple gunshot wounds in separate incidents in the West Bank, witnesses and officials said. The woman's death brought the number of persons killed in the current wave of violence to 360, nearly all of them Palestinians.

Mr. Clinton, in his speech to the Israel Policy Forum, a think tank on the Middle East, vowed to use his remaining days in the White House to narrow differences between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We've got a mess on our hands," Mr. Clinton said.

Mr. Clinton disclosed key elements of his framework for a negotiated settlement and said it was a fair one that "responds to each side's essential needs if not to their utmost desires."

He said he was sending veteran U.S. mediator Dennis B. Ross to the region this week to talk to Israeli and Palestinian leaders again. Mr. Ross will seek their approval for an accord that would give the Palestinians a state with its capital in Jerusalem and give Israel a Jewish Jerusalem "that is larger and more vibrant than any seen in history."

On Palestinian refugees, a key sticking point, Mr. Clinton appeared to hold to his position that they should have the right to return to a Palestinian homeland not to Israel or to help in finding new homes, whether in the Arab countries in which they now live or elsewhere.

Israel cannot be expected to take in an unlimited number of refugees and thereby "undermine" its purpose in being, he said.

The president said the incoming Bush administration was not bound by his proposals. "These parameters originated with me and will go with me when I leave office," he said.

Addressing the people of Israel before a largely Jewish audience, Mr. Clinton said "you have hardly had one day of peace and quiet since your state was created."

He said "your dream of a homeland has come true," but when the Jewish people returned home beginning a century ago, they found "it was not vacant. You discovered that your land was also their land, the homeland of two peoples."

And, Mr. Clinton went on, "the hard reality is that there is no choice but for you to divide this land into two states for two peoples."

Before Mr. Clinton spoke, a senior U.S. official said the administration was not optimistic about reaching a final deal before George W. Bush becomes president on Jan. 20.

Mr. Ross, expected to go to the Middle East tomorrow, intends to meet separately with Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat to discuss "what is possible and advisable to do in the next 14 days," the official said.

Mr. Clinton has the conditional acceptance of both sides to his proposals, but bridging the differences presents a formidable challenge.

Senior Palestinian and Israeli security officials met yesterday with in Egypt with George Tenet, the Central Intelligence Agency chief.

Israel's disclosure of an arrest in the Dec. 28 bus bombing on a busy Tel Aviv thoroughfare, which injured 14 persons, was the closest Mr. Barak's government has come to directly implicating Arafat subordinates in plotting an attack inside Israel since bloody clashes broke out in late September.


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