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Israelis and Palestinians each say pullout accord is up to the other

SHARE Israelis and Palestinians each say pullout accord is up to the other

With new clashes breaking out Sunday in the West Bank, Israel and the Palestinians both said that reaching an accord on an Israeli troop pullback was up to the other side.

Security was tight in advance of a Jewish holiday beginning at sundown Sunday, and the Palestinian lands remained sealed off.Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due to arrive Tuesday for talks in advance of a hoped-for summit in Washington later this month, and both sides have been busy staking out positions in advance of her visit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly accused the Palestinians of not doing enough to crack down on Islamic militants, said Israel's security was his paramount concern.

"Israel has shown its willingness to go the distance," he said at a ceremony to usher in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. "Now it's up to the Palestinians to show their willingness to carry out their part."

Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority has said it is working to contain militant groups like Hamas, but that even its best efforts cannot provide an ironclad guarantee against attacks.

Two days before Albright's scheduled arrival, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed hopes for a speedy accord - but said any movement must come from the Israeli side.

"She has one `yes' in her pocket. That is Arafat's `yes,' " Erekat said of Albright. "In order to reach an agreement she needs a second `yes,' and that is Mr. Netanyahu's."

The Palestinians earlier this year accepted terms of an American-authored initiative on an Israeli troop pullback, but Netan-ya-hu balked.

Erekat spoke to reporters during a break in talks with Israeli Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh. The two were mainly discussing secondary issues, including the so-called safe passage that would permit Palestinian travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the status of Palestinian prisoners.

Sunday's West Bank clashes occurred near Hebron, marking the fifth straight day of skirmishing in or near the divided town. Hebron is home to 450 Jewish settlers and 130,000 Palestinians and a frequent flashpoint for violence.

In the latest fighting, a crowd of about 100 Palestinians gathered at the Israeli military checkpoint outside Hebron, and some began throw-ing stones and bottles at the soldiers.