Ross makes last stab at getting Israeli agreement to withdrawal

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. envoy Dennis Ross was left empty-handed Monday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused a U.S. proposal that he withdraw troops from 13 percent of the West Bank.
The American mediator’s fourth and final meeting with Netanyahu ended Monday night with no deal. He was to depart Israel early Tuesday.
Earlier, Ross suggested American patience was running out and the Clinton administration would not keep up the mediation effort indefinitely. “At some point we have to bring this effort to a conclusion,” he said.
In the West Bank, where frustration is growing over Washington’s inability to break the deadlock in the peace talks, Palestinians chanting “Death to America!” stoned Israeli troops.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and metal pellets to disperse hundreds of protesters in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, El Bireh and Ramallah. Several Palestinians were injured.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat blamed Israel for the deadlock and asked the United States to use “its international and regional weight” to find a solution.
In a U.S.-backed agreement signed last year, Netanyahu had pledged to carry out three troop pullbacks by this summer.
However, he later said he would go ahead with only one withdrawal before launching talks on final borders. The Palestinians have said they would not accept any changes in agreements already signed.
Netanyahu hinted Monday he was softening his position, saying he was ready to discuss an additional withdrawal with Palestinian officials. However, Palestinians reportedly insisted that Americans be present at such talks, an idea Netanyahu rejects.
Monday’s marches in the West Bank were to mark Land Day, a commemoration of a 1976 protest against land confiscation in which six Israeli Arabs were killed by Israeli troops.