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In Mideast summit breakthrough, Barak, Arafat reach cease-fire agreement
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (CNN) -- In a breakthrough Tuesday at the emergency Mideast summit, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to condemn violence and take concrete measures aimed at restoring calm in the region.
U.S. President Bill Clinton, who helped negotiate at the summit, said Israel would pull back its troops from Palestinian areas and the Palestinians would restore law and order. The sides agreed to eliminate points of friction and maintain calm.
Clinton also said Israel would end its closure of Palestinian areas and reopen the Gaza airport.
The two sides had been attempting to end nearly three weeks of deadly clashes in troubled parts of the West Bank and Gaza that have claimed more than 100 deaths, mostly Palestinians.
The violence had put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on hold and heightened tensions in the region.
The tense talks aimed at crafting a cease-fire had entered a second day Tuesday, after Monday's marathon discussions mediated by Clinton were adjourned without an agreement.
Before Tuesday's breakthrough, the talks had produced a narrowing of differences, but "a lot of moving pieces" remained, said a senior U.S. administration official close to the discussions.
A senior U.S. official said CIA Director George Tenet had been trying to craft a compromise on security issues related to any cease-fire language.
As Clinton dealt directly with both leaders, special Mideast envoy Dennis Ross was shuttling back and forth among the delegations, trying to resolve other issues in a proposed communique on a cease-fire.
"This is a maze, and we are slowly making our way. But there are no guarantees here," the official added.
Clinton had indefinitely postponed plans to return to Washington so he could continue with the talks, said an aide.
Arafat and Barak did not meet Monday in face-to-face talks, leaving Clinton the task of shuttling between both leaders.
'There is no failure'
When the talks stalled earlier Monday, Barak advisor Danny Yatom said: "There is no failure, even though the level of expectation is very low."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hosted a dinner for all the leaders. Earlier, Clinton had urged both parties to "move beyond blame" and end the violent confrontations.
"It is hard to say whether real progress is being made," said a senior U.S. official close to the talks. "It will take a little more back and forth to see if they can do any real business."
This source said a separate round of meetings involving foreign ministers was at times "angry and contentious." But the source said the talks at this level were "viewed more as a venting session," and that the top-level meetings were viewed as far more critical.
During the afternoon session among foreign ministers, the Israelis and Palestinians were said to have been shouting at each other over who was responsible for starting the new cycle of bloodshed.
Violence starts over holy site
The current round of violence broke out after Israeli right-wing Likud party leader Ariel Sharon's visit on September 28 to the contested Temple Mount, or Noble Sanctuary.
Temple Mount is home to Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall of the biblical Temple, and two mosques -- Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock -- that mark the spot where tradition has it that the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
Control of the holy site in east Jerusalem is a major obstacle to a final-status Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Key issues in dispute
Foreign ministers were attempting to hammer out language for a cease-fire, but Palestinian sources said the Israelis were rejecting a draft proposal they had put forward. The Palestinians want Israeli forces to pull back from flashpoint areas before any agreement to a cease-fire, but Israelis say they will not pull back until a cease-fire is reached.
In addition, both sides are at an impasse over the make-up of an international commission to investigate the causes of the violence.
After several hours of talk, the ministers recessed their meeting, unable to resolve differences.
Barak and Arafat were sitting around a large table as Mubarak opened the summit, saying the goal of the meeting was to "bring back peace and hope."
Clinton said the parties should try to reach agreements on three goals: End the violence and restore security cooperation; create an "objective and fair fact-finding process" on how the violence started; and determine how to avoid another such flare-up.
Clinton said the summit could not "afford to fail" and should return both sides to the final-status peace process started at Camp David, Maryland, in the summer.
"In order to succeed, though we have a situation piled high with grievance, we have got to move beyond blame," Clinton said. "We have got to focus on what we are going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next day. We have to have a balanced, mutual disengagement."
Also attending the summit were U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Jordan's King Abdullah and Javier Solana, the European Union's representative.
But faces were grim, emotions high, and expectations low.
Barak says he expects Arafat to rearrest Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militants released from Palestinian jails. He was also pushing for a declaration from Arafat to renounce violence in the future.
A Hamas leader said that 34 Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists out of about 350 released had been rearrested by Palestinian authorities in recent days.
One of the few things the two leaders agreed on is that neither wanted to be blamed for the failure of the summit or for the failure not to resume peace talks down the line.
Skepticism over talks, fresh clashes
Both Arafat and Barak left communities at home that were uneasy and skeptical.
Barak has asked the Likud, which opposes the policy of exchanging land for peace, to join in a national emergency government. Likud leaders said they would wait until after the summit. Sharon said the meeting will be important if a cease-fire can be arranged, but he warned Barak, "Don't make any concessions."
At the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, militants demonstrated and called for Arafat to come home, saying the purpose of the summit was only to undermine Arafat's support among the Palestinians.
Masked gunmen marched in Gaza calling for Arafat to stand firm.
There were fresh clashes on the West Bank and Gaza just as the summit got under way. A Palestinian policeman was killed in Gaza near the Egyptian border, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the head in the West Bank and left brain dead and another 40 people were wounded.
More Mideast talks planned for Tuesday
Israel Defense Forces
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