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Palestinians: Israel Stalling Talks

January 28, 2000

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinian leaders on Friday accused Israel of wasting time in peace talks, saying Prime Minister Ehud Barak is not serious about meeting a Feb. 13 deadline for an outline of a final peace treaty between the two sides.

Barak on Friday canceled a weekend trip to an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. That move dashed hopes for a three-way summit with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and President Clinton, who both were to be in attendance and planned to meet.

``I think Barak doesn’t want to reach an agreement with us,″ said Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath. ``All he wants to do is to waste time.″

Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty talks have yielded little progress. With the deadline for a treaty outline fast approaching, Israeli negotiator Oded Eran and his Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Abed Rabbo, are to hold talks starting Sunday.

A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was possible the talks would be moved to the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat by midweek. The official said a final decision on the venue has not yet been made.

At a meeting of the Palestinian cabinet Friday evening, Arafat said Israel’s ``delaying and evading implementation of the interim agreements is harming the peace process very badly,″ the Palestinian news agency WAFA said in a news release.

The Palestinians had proposed moving the talks to Washington, but Israel refused, Shaath said.

``We want our negotiations with the Israelis to be under the supervision of the United States, the same as the negotiations between Syria and Israel,″ he said.

Barak’s spokesman, Gadi Baltiansky, said earlier Friday that negotiations would intensify next week. But both sides have said they doubt the February deadline for an outline can be met.

The sides have set September as the deadline for a final treaty. Difficult issues are on the agenda, including borders, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements and the fate of Jerusalem, which both claim.

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