Seeking to draw Israelis and Palestinians closer on the thorny issue of Israeli troop pullbacks from the West Bank, U.S. mediator Dennis Ross was shuttling between the two sides Saturday to press for a deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ross emerged from their meeting saying nothing.The American envoy, in his first visit to the region in nearly three months, has been trying to win acceptance of a U.S. proposal calling for an Israeli troop pullback from 13.1 percent of the West Bank over 12 weeks. Each gradual withdrawal would have to be accompanied by evidence that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was cracking down on Muslim militants.
The percentages are part of a larger U.S. initiative, the complete terms of which have not been publicly disclosed. Based on Ross' report following this trip, President Clinton will decide whether to go public with the plan - a step that widely would be seen as pressure on Israel.