Barak- Arafat Summit Possible before Election
- Summit in the Offing?
[31.1.1] The Israeli Prime Minister's staff is working on preparations for a meeting between
Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, before the February 6
elections next week. Barak said after the Taba talks that he was suspending contact with the
Palestinians, following a conciliatory television interview Arafat gave
Channel 2 on Monday night, the possibility of a Barak-Arafat summit was
But this time, say sources in Jerusalem, any meeting will require
comprehensive groundwork to avoid the failure of previous meetings between
the two. Barak will not want to use the summit for a joint statement
detailing agreements reached so far with the Palestinians, in case such a
statement is used to showcase Israeli concessions.
In an interview on IDF radio, Barak spokesmen Gilad Scher said yesterday
that the meeting was likely, and that it was in Israel's best interests to explore
every avenue to peace. He did not respond to the interviewer's queries about the
advisability of holding a meeting so soon before the election, nor to the interviewer's
suggestion that perhaps opposition candidate Ariel Sharon should also be invited
to such a meeting.
Voice of Palestine broadcasts also discussed the probability of such a meeting,
and became more conciliatory in tone than they have been over the past few days.
Sources: Ha'aretz/IDF Radio