Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he probably will make concessions to reach an agreement with the Palestinians over the West Bank, but not at the risk of his country's security.
Netanyahu, taking a hard line Thursday night after his two-day talks with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended without a breakthrough, pledged never to agree to establish a Palestinian state or to redivide Jerusalem.
With Israeli officials saying no agreement was reached on any of the difficult issues, including how much territory Israel would relinquish on the West Bank, the Clinton administration seemed to have suffered a foreign policy setback.
Still, the drive continued Friday as American mediator Dennis Ross met with Netanyahu at his hotel.
President Clinton, speaking today at the so-called G-8 summit in Birmingham, England, expressed frustration at the lack of a breakthrough.
"Delay is not the friend of the peace process. We need to move," Clinton told reporters, adding that he is nonetheless "encouraged that Secretary Albright and Prime Minister Netanyahu are still working."
An agreement to reopen negotiations with the Palestinian Authority after 15 months of stalemate continued to elude the Israeli leader and Albright, although they directed aides to keep meeting in the search for an acceptable formula.
Netanyahu insisted Thursday that Israel had determined which areas of the West Bank that it could withdraw its troops from safely and that peace was "within our reach."
Albright's spokesman, James P. Rubin, said. "We do have sufficient reason to continue serious work." But he added, "It is hard to be optimistic."
The biggest stumbling block was a U.S. proposal that Netanyahu relinquish an additional 13 percent of the territory to the Palestinian Authority. Israel already has agreed to give up 27 percent.
Netanyahu said Israel probably would make territorial concessions to reach an accord with the Palestinians "but not one that endangers our security."
Meanwhile, Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli troops in holy shrines in Jerusalem and in several parts of the West Bank today.
Palestinian leaders and mosque preachers fueled the volatile mood with angry words, while Netanyahu said he would not negotiate under the threat of violence.
At least five Palestinians were killed in Thursday's clashes, which sprouted from mass demonstrations held across Palestinian territories to mark what Palestinians call "al nakba" - the catastrophe - Israel's 1948 founding and their own uprooting.