|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Fears of violence after Camp David talks
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The breakdown of the Middle East peace summit at Camp David carries a risk of violence which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat had hoped to avert.
Street protests are widely considered possible because the failure is likely to increase frustration among Palestinians. Clashes could also flare if Arafat goes ahead with a pledge to declare a Palestinian state without a deal with Israel.
The threat of violence would have remained, and might even have been worse, if the leaders had reached an agreement which failed to satisfy hard-liners on both sides.
Some politicians had even suggested the lives of Arafat and Barak would have been in danger in this volatile and violent part of the world if they had reached a "bad" deal.
Police in Israel say they are ready for "any scenario" if violence erupts. They have identified the moment when talks break down and the month of September, when Arafat has said he might declare a Palestinian state, as high-risk times.
"The expectation is (of possible disturbances) as we approach September, or the conclusion of the summit, and the signing or not signing of an agreement," a police spokesman said before the talks broke down.
The armed forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, also said Tuesday that Israel was ready and that Palestinian police had also been making preparations to tackle any violence.
"The Israeli army to the best of my understanding is ready and is making all preparations, not just in recent weeks but we defined 2000 as a year of readiness," he told Israel Radio.
"We don't want a confrontation in any way...And a lot is dependent on the Palestinians."
The Maariv newspaper said Israel's military intelligence had told police a failure at Camp David could lead to confrontations concentrated in Arab East Jerusalem.
That part of the city was captured by Israel along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.
Holy sites in the Old City such as the ancient Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism and also home to Islamic shrines, were among possible flashpoints.
"Jerusalem is sensitive. We are taking care of the Temple Mount with very large police forces...with a lot of technology and a lot of manpower," police chief Yair Yitzhaki told Israel Radio this week.
Other potential flashpoints are the West Bank and Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war and home of the seven-year "intifada" or uprising that Palestinians waged from 1987 onwards against Israel's military occupation.
An Israeli security source said earlier this month that the army wanted to avoid any bloodbaths or violent confrontations that could serve Palestinian interests.
"We know the best...(they) can hope for is children fighting against Israeli tanks on CNN," the officer said.
The militant Palestinian Hamas movement, which has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings, said Sunday that forceful resistance against Israel would continue until it completed a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Palestinians had told their negotiators that going too far at the summit might have put their lives in danger.
Police and security forces are likely to bear in mind that prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Jew in 1995 to stop his peace moves with the Palestinians.
Lawmaker Hussam Khader, making no threat but citing the dangers of violence in the region, said there would be hostility to any leader who did not defend the interests of Palestinian refugees.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank suggested in comments on Israel's Channel Two television Monday that Barak's life might be in danger if he traded away the land beneath their feet in an effort to secure peace.
Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
See related sites about Middle East
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.