Israel, Palestinians Slouch Toward Summit
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Arafat has also taken a tough line in saying he would delay the meeting with Netanyahu until Israel accepts the formula agreed to in 1993 peace accords. His moves appear designed to maximize international pressure on Israel and to hold out for large concessions.Skip to next paragraph
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Arafat has called the recent surge of fighting a "massacre" by Israel.
And orders of restraint to the armed Palestinian police were not manifest until Saturday. Helmeted riot police with plastic shields and batons in Ramallah - the site of the worst clashes - prevented protesters from coming within firing range of Israeli checkpoints.
A hoarse Palestinian official used a police megaphone to convince hundreds of young men to disperse: "It is not worth being killed today," he said. "Have respect for the martyrs and don't make trouble."
The new orders coincided with appeals by Arafat's official radio service for an end to the bloodshed and to "open a new page."
Ali Jarbawi, a professor of political science at Bir Zeit University, said that the Palestinian violence indicated that there are few alternatives left for them.
"Arafat is trying to gain the most out of this," he says. "He is not going to meet with Netanyahu just to calm the situation. All Arafat has to do is sit back and relax ... and let the pressure cooker continue to boil."
But Israeli officials have confirmed their tough stance: "If anybody tries to deliver a political reward for Arafat's decision to incite his people to violence, this will destroy the peace process," an anonymous official in the prime minister's office said in the Jerusalem Post.
"If Arafat succeeds in obtaining such a reward now, he will do it every 10 days."
The attitude along the "front lines" in the West Bank and Gaza is that, in the words of one man in Ramallah with his hands full of stones meant for Israeli targets, "We Palestinians are always treated like dogs - and now they are doing this to us again."
As the conflict raged on the ridge above, he dropped down into the dust behind a boulder as Israeli soldiers fired a volley of rubber and live bullets.
The skirmish Friday grew out of the funeral for a boy killed Thursday and mirrors scores of similar conflicts.
As the corpse was passed out of the mosque - worn hands clutching the wooden bier, the young body wrapped in a Palestinian flag - men began to chant a war cry.
Later, the crowd charged an Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of town. Some fell to live rounds. Others moved to drag the wounded away.
The action shifted to a nearby hillside, where men and women - many dressed like Americans - unleashed a barrage of stones crying "Alahu Akbar" (God is great). Women wore earrings and jewelry; men were in their good shirts.
Supply lines were set up to provide buckets full of stones and gas and bottles for Molotov cocktails.
The line in reverse carried back the wounded, who numbered about 25 in three hours.
Splashes of blood spattered the stony hillside.
"They should be killed, those Israelis!" shouted the man who dove for cover behind the boulder, his stone-throwing arm wrapped by a tightly knotted Palestinian flag around his elbow.
"They never let us live."