Clinton Calls Netanyahu, Arafat
Sep. 02, 1998
MOSCOW (AP) _ President Clinton telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to register his disappointment that no agreement has been concluded with the Palestinians over the West Bank.
``It's very frustrating,'' a senior U.S. official told a small group of reporters covering Clinton's summit talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. ``We need to get closure.''
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Clinton later called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who is attending a conference in South Africa. He offered no description of the conversation.
``We're closer than we have every been before,'' the official said of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the West Bank.
The Clinton administration has urged Israel to yield 13 percent of the territory to the Palestinians as part of a graduated pullback from areas on the West Bank.
Clinton talked to Netanyahu for about 25 minutes, describing his meetings with Yeltsin, the official said. The call with Arafat lasted 15 minutes.
In Israel, Netanyahu spokesman Aviv Bushinsky said in a statement: ``The president said he intends to take steps to speed up the talks with the Palestinians, as soon as he gets back from Russia.''
Netanyahu has resisted a 13 percent pullback, saying it would jeopardize Israel's security. But he has told the Palestinians he was willing to work out an acceptable arrangement.
Arafat has insisted on the 13 percent pullback prescribed by the United States and laid claim to virtually all of the territory between Israel and Jordan that Israel won in the 1967 Middle East War.
Critics of Israel have complained Clinton was not being tough with Netanyahu.