WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations not to abandon the talks or allow 'extremists' to wreck them by violence or illegal acts.
Speaking to Bush in the Oval Office, Faisal Hussaini, adviser to the Palestinian delegation, said he believed the Israeli expulsion of some 400 Palestinians 'is a dangerous one. It can destroy the whole peace process.'
But Edward Djerejian, the State Department's top official for the region, put a positive stamp on the 14-month-old negotiations and gently disputed the Palestinian and other Arab delegation's public statements that the talks have been dealt a fatal blow by the Israeli deportations, ordered in retaliation for the slayings of a border policeman and five soldiers this month.
'With enough determination, these negotiations can succeed. Indeed, we believe 1993 can be a year of real achievement,' Djerejian said Friday.
Despite their dire statements, Djerejian said the delegations told Bush they are committed to the peace talks.
'We have heard the sustained commitment of the parties to see this process through,' Djerejian said. 'In no way would I characterize these talks as fatally flawed.'
The diplomat said Bush told the delegations that the 'only real way out of the violence and the conflict that both the Arabs and Israelis suffer under is the peace process' and not to let radicals wreck the talks.
'They should not be given the opportunity to succeed,' Djerejian said. 'He made clear that all efforts to frustrate the peace process must be dealt with and all parties must publicly condemn the violence.
'No one should play into the hands of extremists.'
In Jerusalem, Palestinians in the occupied territories reacted with rage and calls for heightened confrontation with security forces in response to the expulsion of about 400 suspected Muslim fundamentalist activists to the edge of Israel's self-declared 'security zone' in southern Lebanon.
Hussaini said that the deportations are 'putting us in a very critical situation, how to conclude such negotiations while they are doing these things against international law.
'So I believe something must be done to avoid such a result,' he said.
After the 35-minute with Bush, Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said the president 'insistently' urged the peace talks to continue and said their discussion with the president was 'very amicable and very frank.'
She said the peace talks, the deportations and the status of Jerusalem were discussed. Bush, she added, stressed to them the need 'to find a way' for constructive developments, and expressed 'tremendous sympathy for the tragic human conditions involving the Palestinians.'
The State Department said Israel and every government has an obligation to the principles of human rights and the rule of law and that it had repeatedly urged the Jewish state to comply with such principles in its actions in the occupied territories.
'The United States believes that charges of wrong-doing should be brought against specific individuals in a court of law based on evidence to be argued in a fair trial which would afford full judicial process,' the department said in a statement.
'We therefore strongly condemn the action of deportation.'
Djerejian, saying progress has been made on such issues as territory and security, maintained he was not presenting an unreleastic assessment despite the Arab delegations public misgivings.
'You are seeing and hearing voices of frustration that not more progress is not being made,' Djerejian said. 'The issue is not whether the glass is half full or half empty. Each party attaches its own interpretation at any given moment. The real issue is weather the glass is filling. The United States believes it is.'