Arafat Says Peace Talks May Resume after Democrats' Convention

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - When the Democratic National Convention is over, the Middle East peace talks might very well resume, said Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday - a possibility echoed by Israel's Justice Minister.

In comments to a wire service reporter, Arafat said, "As has been said by His Excellency President Clinton when we left (Camp) David, he said maybe, maybe we will come back after the Democratic Convention."

Arafat made the comment as he arrived in Malaysia, part of a global trip he's making to drum up support for an independent Palestinian state.

Also on Tuesday, an Israeli official said the Clinton administration is trying to arrange a follow-up to the Camp David peace summit.

Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said the Clinton administration is ready to help the two sides "bridge over problems that remain, primarily in the realm of Jerusalem and the issue of refugees."

Dennis Ross, President Clinton's Middle East envoy, will meet with Israelis and Palestinians next week, and according to Beilin, Ross "will speak to both sides, and prepare them ahead of another summit far shorter than its predecessor -- a day or two ahead of a signing." Beilin made the comments in an interview with Israeli radio.

Negotiations between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David ended without an agreement in July. The main sticking point at that time was the future of Jerusalem.

Both sides have set a Sept. 13 deadline for a final peace settlement, and if it happens, it would be what some observers call a "legacy-building" achievement for Clinton in the waning days of his presidency.

A peace agreement would also dominate the headlines, at a time when Clinton's would-be successor is looking for some headlines of his own.

See Earlier Story:
Another Mideast Summit Possible? (7 August 2000)