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|Wednesday, January 17, 2001, updated at 09:56(GMT+8)|
Barak Calls for Slower Pace in Negotiations with PalestiniansIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday night that negotiations with the Palestinians will continue in an attempt to reach a comprehensive agreement, but at a slower pace.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Barak said the pace of the negotiations would also correspond to the reduction of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He rejected proposals put forward by Regional Cooperation Minister Shimon Peres, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and left-wing Meretz Party leader Yossi Sarid to work toward a general framework agreement.
Barak convened the meeting to brief the participants on a round of talks with the Palestinians, which took place earlier in the day in Jerusalem.
The cabinet was also aimed at deciding on the best way to continue the peace talks.
Three different views were discussed at the meeting. Barak believes there is little or no chance of reaching an agreement prior to the February 6 prime ministerial election.
Peres, however, believes that following his meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last Saturday, a partial agreement could be concluded with the Palestinians by Thursday.
The third view was from Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who said there was no reason to set January 20, the day US President Bill Clinton leaves office, as the final date for negotiations.
Ben-Ami said that since the talks were currently held without US involvement, they could continue after Clinton leaves office until the February 6 prime ministerial election.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed talks Tuesday after a day's freeze after the killing of a Jewish settler in the Gaza Strip. No breakthrough was achieved during the three-hour meeting although negotiators described the discussions as "deep and serious."
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