Barak Ready to Accept Palestinian State

ByABC News
November 8, 2000, 9:36 AM

Nov. 8 -- As clashes turned deadly in the Gaza Strip today, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made his clearest offer yet of an independent Palestinian state but said it must be the result of negotiations that would resume only after the violence abates.

Baraks pledge of a viable Palestinian state came in a long letter to the heads of all the worlds governments, meant to explain Israels policy in its weeks of conflict with the Palestinians.

The statement came as fighting once again flared in the region after days of comparatively reduced violence.

Four Palestinian teenagers and an Israeli woman were killed today in clashes inthe West Bank and Gaza, medical officials said.

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, hospital officials said today. Earlier, they reported that a 14-year-old Palestinian youth was killed in stone-throwing clashes with Israeli soldiers at the Karni crossing which connects Israel to the Gaza Strip. They said the youth was shot in the neck.

The clashes came even as the international diplomatic community pushed to arrive at a solution to the crisis that has lasted nearly six weeks and has claimed more than 183 lives, mostly Palestinian.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today made a stopover in Cairo where he met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before heading to Britain and the U.S., where he is expected to meet with President Clinton.

A Declaration and an Appeal

And as Arafat departed for his meeting with Clinton to be held on Thursday, Barak told world leaders he is ready to accept the creation of a Palestinian state but only if it is born out of agreement and not through violence.

The remarks, contained in a letter to foreign leaders, were Baraks clearest commitment so far to conditionally accepting a Palestinian state.

We are at a crucial crossroads, facing two distinct possibilities. We could resume negotiations, which based on the ideas discussed at Camp David will lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian state, Barak wrote in the letter.