Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said after meeting with President Clinton Tuesday that he has accepted a proposal under which Israel would turn over another 13 percent of the West Bank.
Arafat said he hopes a West Bank agreement can be concluded in October.Under the latest proposal, 3 percent of the land that Israel yields back would be turned into a nature preserve under joint Israeli-Palestinian security oversight. "We have accepted it," Arafat said.
Clinton saw him to the White House driveway and shook hands with the Palestinian leader several times for the benefit of photographers.
Now that Israel has agreed to give up 13 percent of the West Bank on top of 27 percent promised in past accords, the focus of U.S. mediation shifts to whether Arafat would provide the kind of security concerns to seal a deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat quoted Arafat as saying "he will make every possible effort." A White House official told reporters the Palestinian leader had reviewed with Clinton his speech Monday to the U.N. General Assembly in which Arafat called for an end to terrorism.
Clinton has set up a schedule aimed at concluding the West Bank agreement by mid-October. And Arafat said he hoped there could be a signing by then.
Clinton talked alone with Arafat for about 20 minutes and together with senior aides, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and national security adviser Sandy Berger, for 40 minutes, said the White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Declaring Israel's concern for security was "justified," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said "the president is determined to see an agreement arise."