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Arabs: Israel Must Make Concessions

October 5, 1998

JERICHO, West Bank (AP) _ On the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s arrival, a top Palestinian official said without Israeli concessions, her latest peace efforts ``won’t go anywhere.″

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, speaking to Associated Press Television News in the West Bank town of Jericho, also accused the Clinton administration of allowing Israel to drag its feet on living up to past accords.

``I hope Madame Albright will end this cycle _ meeting and arranging other meetings, giving (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu the extra miles _ because this must stop and we must move to substance,″ he told APTN.

``We believe that without a clear-cut Netanyahu `yes’ to the American initiative and all its components, I think we won’t go anywhere,″ Erekat said.

The Palestinians earlier this year accepted terms of an American-authored plan for an Israeli troop pullback in the West Bank, but Netanyahu balked, citing security concerns. Talks in the United States last week apparently brought the two sides closer together, however.

Albright was to meet Tuesday _ separately _ with Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Her visit is meant to lay the groundwork for an Israeli-Palestinian summit in Washington sometime around Oct. 15.

Albright was to spend only two days in the region, but was accompanied by mediator Dennis Ross, who will likely stay longer to try to coax the two sides as close to an accord as possible before any summit.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on Erekat’s remarks. Much of the country was shut down for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which lasts for one week, but main commemorations were Monday.

However, Netanyahu has consistently said that no deal is possible without better security cooperation from Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians say even diligent efforts cannot provide total protection against attacks on Israel by Islamic militants.

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