SYRIA condemned the Palestinian-Israeli peace deal yesterday, saying the accord would not survive because most Palestinians did not support it.
The official daily Al Baath newspaper also scorned Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, who signed the accord with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Cairo Wednesday; it stated Mr. Arafat and his men would be prisoners in Gaza and Jericho.
Syria, a key partner in the Middle East peace process, says it will not sign separate deals with Israel and insists that any settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict should include all Arabs involved in peace talks - Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinians. Self-rule begins
ISRAEL said it emptied Gaza's central prison yesterday, setting free hundreds of Arab inmates under a peace deal turning over the occupied strip and West Bank town of Jericho to Palestinian self-rule. Under the peace pact, Israel is supposed to release 5,000 Palestinian prisoners starting with Wednesday's signing of the peace deal in Cairo. Human rights groups estimate Israel holds about 9,500 prisoners. Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization are still at odds over freeing militants from groups that oppose the peace agreement. The PLO wants all the prisoners to be released.
The anticipated end of 27 years of Israeli occupation will come slowly, as PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat has asked for at least four weeks to complete the transfer of authority.
In Jericho, hundreds of Jewish settlers protesting self-rule and vowing to prevent its spread throughout the rest of the West Bank tried for a second day to congregate at an ancient synagogue in Jericho, which is expected to be the seat of the PLO government.
A 160-strong international group of observers from Norway, Denmark, and Italy left Copenhagen by special-chartered aircraft yesterday for deployment in the West Bank town of Hebron. Israel agreed to allow foreign observers in Hebron in a deal with the PLO, following the massacre of about 30 Muslim worshipers in a Hebron mosque on Feb. 25. The final agreement on the Hebron observer force was signed in Copenhagen Monday.