January 10, 2001
"The Oslo accords are dead. Period."
If the polls remain as disastrous as they now are for Ehud Barak, expect him
to be pushed out and Shimon Peres substituted. Barak has no chance; Peres has
some, especially with the "Arab vote". And with Sharon positioning himself as
the candidate that believes all past agreements with the PLO are "null and void"
he just may have given his opposition the opening they need to outflank him in
a desperation move coordinated with the Americans, the Arab "client regimes",
Arafat's "Authority", and the Europeans -- all of whom have a great interest
in keeping Oslo from being finally buried and keeping Sharon out of power.
SHARON: PAST PEACE PACTS ARE NULL
JERUSALEM (Associated Press - 10 Jan) - Ariel Sharon, the leading contender in
Israel's race for prime minister, declared in an interview published Wednesday
that he considers the Israeli-Palestinian accords of recent years null and void.
He accused Palestinians of killing the current peacemaking effort in more than
100 days of violence.
Meanwhile, a last-ditch mediation drive was thrown into doubt, with President
Clinton's envoy postponing a Mideast trip and a top Palestinian negotiator denouncing
Israel's leaders as war criminals.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials met late Wednesday to discuss security
matters, the second high-level meeting in as many days. The Israeli team, with
army commanders and security officials, was headed by Cabinet minister Amnon
Lipkin-Shahak. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat led a Palestinian team of security
In the interview with Kfar Habad, an ultra-Orthodox weekly, Sharon indicated
he would not consider himself bound by the landmark interim peace accords signed
after secret talks in Oslo, Norway in 1993. The interim accords have guided peacemaking
``The Oslo agreement exists no more - period,'' Sharon was quoted as saying.
The interview, to be published in the magazine this week, was widely excerpted
in Israeli newspapers Wednesday.
Sharon holds a double-digit lead in the polls over Prime Minister Ehud Barak
ahead of the Feb. 6 election. Sharon formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday
night with a rally in Jerusalem.
Sharon's campaign has sought to portray him as a moderate, distancing him from
his long history of operations against the Palestinians and a disastrous invasion
of Lebanon in 1982 that led to his ouster as defense minister. A preview of his
television campaign ads Wednesday showed a grandfatherly Sharon, 72, holding
a small child and walking through pastoral scenery.
At the rally, he said that as premier he would not negotiate with the Palestinians
before the violence subsides. But he added: ``There is no peace without concessions.
The peace we will reach will be based on a compromise.''
In the Kfar Habad interview, Sharon was quoted as saying that merely allowing
the Palestinians to keep the areas Israel ceded to date was a ``painful concession''
because ``all those places are the birthplace of the Jewish people.''
He did not advocate retaking areas now under Palestinian control - about 40 percent
of the West Bank and two-thirds of Gaza. But he indicated that the Palestinians
would get no more territory from him if he is elected.
He also promised not to give up control of any of Jerusalem - including a key
disputed holy site, where the Al Aqsa Mosque is built atop the ruins of the ancient
Jewish Temples - and said Israel must retain all its settlements in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip for security reasons.
The current round of unrest erupted after Sharon's Sept. 28 trip to the holy
site. Since then, 364 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed.
The Palestinians want to create a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza, with
sovereignty over the Arab section of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa compound. They
describe the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as illegal encroachment
on their land and demand their removal.
Barak has offered the Palestinians a state in more than 90 percent of the West
Bank and Gaza. Clinton's peace proposal also would give the Palestinians sovereignty
over east Jerusalem and the holy site in exchange for Palestinians dropping their
claim that millions of refugees and their families have the right to return to
homes in what is now Israel.
Barak has worked for an agreement with the Palestinians before he faces the voters.
But all sides now doubt a peace deal can be reached before Clinton's term ends
U.S. mediator Dennis Ross postponed a trip, set for Thursday, meant to try to
narrow the gaps between the sides. Larry Schwartz, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy
in Tel Aviv, said Clinton held up the mission to see whether the level of violence
can be reduced.
Also Wednesday, chief Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo demanded that
Barak and his Cabinet be prosecuted for approving the assassination of Palestinians
Palestinians say more than a dozen leading activists have been killed by Israeli
special forces. Israel has acknowledged targeting Palestinians who plan attacks
against Israelis but has not admitted involvement in specific cases.
ROSS DELAYS PEACE VISIT, SHARON SPELLS OUT HARD LINE FOR PALESTINIANS
JERUSALEM, Jan 10 (AFP) - The Middle East peace process appeared doomed Wednesday
as US mediator Dennis Ross postponed indefinitely a visit to the region, and
Israeli right-winger Ariel Sharon, favorite to win next month's elections, declared
the seminal 1993 Oslo accords dead.
But efforts to end more than three months of deadly violence sputtered on, with
a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian political and security officials due later
Wednesday, Palestinian officials said.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in an interview with AFP that Ross,
originally scheduled to arrive Wednesday, had postponed his trip pending the
completion of the security talks.
"The security aspect of this has been of great concern to us, and it was felt
that Dennis should wait," Albright said.
"The security people are meeting, and we want to make sure that that part of
the process is working and Dennis will be going, but I can't give you an exact
time," she said. "But it is wrong to say the trip is off."
Albright said she would further discuss the matter with Israeli Foreign Minister
Shlomo Ben Ami, whom she will see during a stop in Paris Thursday.
She stressed the importance of ending months of deadly clashes in order to restart
peace negotiations, the prospects for which have dimmed substantially as President
Bill Clinton's term winds down.
"Time is definitely running out, and decisions have to be made," she said, expressing
frustration with what she termed a "kind of kicking-the-can approach" to the
peace process of some Middle East leaders.
"We are running out of time; the road is ending," Albright said.
She also slammed Sharon's death pronouncement for the Oslo accords, the basis
of the current peace process, as a "mistake."
"We believe that the Oslo Accord is the basis of very important work and something
that has created the possibilities for an agreement" between Israel and the Palestinians,"
"So I would hope very much that he would not declare it dead; I think it's a
mistake," she added.
"The work that has been going throughout this administration has been based on
the Oslo Accord and a lot of good has come out of it," she said.
Sharon's Likud party earlier Wednesday backed up Sharon's remarks, given in an
interview with an Orthodox Jewish weekly Kfar Habad to be published this week.
"Oslo, of course, is dead, and died in practice a long time ago", Sharon's foreign
policy advisor and Likud official Zalman Shoval said.
"The Oslo accords are dead. Period," Sharon told Kfar Habad, according to excerpts
published Tuesday on the Yediot Aharonot newspaper's internet site.
The hawkish right-wing leader is far ahead of his main rival, caretaker Prime
Minister Ehud Barak, in the polls for the February 6 prime ministerial election.
While Shoval said a Sharon government "would aim at reaching long-term, interim
agreements with some aspect of permanency", the Likud leader indicated he would
be offering the Palestinians far less than they could have expected under Barak.
He would concede no more than 45 percent of the West Bank captured by Israel
in 1967 and none of east Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians as the capital
of a future state.
Israel would also not demolish any of the Jewish settlements Sharon helped to
build all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip when he was last in government with
the express purpose of hampering the viability of such a state.
Shoval said, however, that Likud was sure peace negotiations would resume --
"after a necessary recess" -- with the involvement of the new US administration
led by President-elect George W. Bush.
Shoval added that he hoped Bush would not "rush into picking things up where
Clinton left them", and that he would rather "reassess the peace process as a
"There will have to be mutual concessions", and "sacrifices will indeed have
to be made by both sides", if an accord is to be reached, he nevertheless added.
Reacting to Sharon's statements, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told
AFP they were a recipe for war.
"What he has proposed means that it is impossible to reach an agreement. The
result is a description of war," Erakat said.
On the ground Wednesday at least seven Palestinians were injured in clashes with
soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the territories were relatively
A Palestinian official said Israeli and Palestinian political and security experts
would meet late Wednesday at the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza
This followed a "positive" meeting on Tuesday between Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat and Israeli security cabinet member Amnon Lipkin-Shahak.
The Palestinians say Israel must lift its blockade on the territories and halt
cooperation can resume.
Israel says it will not hold peace negotiations while there is violence on the
A total of 375 people have been killed since the intifada flared after Sharon
visited a disputed east Jerusalem holy site on September 28, most of them Palestinians
killed by Israeli troops.
The Palestinian Authority's deputy health minister Muzer as-Sharif alleged Wednesday
the Israeli army is shooting to kill and has increased its use of live ammunition.
And the London-published Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Israel is to pour
new cash into its army intelligence unit because it has proved an effective weapon
in clashes with armed Palestinians.