ISRAEL and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed an agreement yesterday giving Palestinians in the West Bank control over education, health, taxation, tourism, and social welfare in a deal called ``early empowerment.''
But the signing ceremony was delayed by two last-minute crises. Israel is demanding the extradition of two Gazan men suspected of killing two Israeli construction workers over the weekend. The Islamic group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the murders. And Palestinians are protesting Israel's refusal to allow a Pakistani diplomat to visit the Gaza Strip. Israel doesn't have diplomatic relations with Pakistan, which is a mostly Muslim nation.
The handover is the second phase of a year-old peace deal. Palestinian self-rule began in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho in May and is due to spread to other parts of the West Bank.
In Geneva yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, speaking during the opening of a three-day meeting of nongovernmental organizations to study the question of Palestine, said that economic and social development of the West Bank and Gaza was the ``essential base'' for building peace throughout the Middle East. He urged that empowerment arrangements being finalized between Israel and the PLO be implemented quickly.
And in Hebron, Israel has split the mosque - where on Feb. 25 an Israeli opened fire on Muslim worshipers, killing at least 30 - in two and added extensive surveillance equipment. Israeli officials say they want to reopen the shrine soon. Jordanians and Israelis resume talks
JORDANIAN and Israeli delegates resumed talks yesterday toward concluding a final peace treaty. The talks, which began Sunday at an isolated hotel beside the Dead Sea, are the first on Jordanian soil since the two neighbors signed a pact in July ending a 46-year state of war. Officials said delegates on more than 10 committees would discuss technical matters on issues including security, water, the environment, trade, tourism, energy, civil aviation, and communications.
Jordan and Turkey on Sunday called for an end to UN sanctions against Iraq and urged its return to the international fold. King Hussein and President Suleyman Demirel also said the stability brought by an Arab-Israeli settlement would lead to an increased cooperation between their countries. Both say that Turkey and Jordan were harshly affected by the sanctions imposed on Iraq following the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.