LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Nov. 5 (AP)--President Clinton will hold separate meetings in Washington this week with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in hopes of reviving the peace process, the White House said Sunday.
"The meetings are to assess the situation on the ground and begin to find a way back to negotiations," White House press secretary Jake Siewert said while Clinton was on a political trip in Arkansas.
Clinton planned the post-election meetings with Arafat on Thursday and Barak three days later, on Nov. 12.
The sessions would give Clinton another chance to try to promote a settlement between the two sides. But deep mistrust has grown stronger in more than a month of violence on the West Bank, in Gaza and Israel, and Arafat has made clear he will settle for nothing less than East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.
Barak turned him down at the Camp David summit that Clinton organized in July. Arafat, meanwhile, is due to declare statehood, whatever the outcome of U.S. mediation, on Nov. 15.
The truce was brokered by Clinton in October at an emergency summit Oct. 16-17 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, but it did not take hold right away as the bloodletting persisted.
Siewert said the leaders will discuss the understandings reached at that summit, including security measures to restore calm, a fact-finding mechanism to assess blame for the recent violence and a way to revive the peace process. The Israeli-Palestinian violence broke out more than five weeks ago, claiming 170 lives in the worst bloodshed since peace talks began in 1993.
"This visit is very important, it comes at a difficult time in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East peace process," Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Aburdeneh, said Sunday.