Barak Urges Russian FM to Press Arafat to End Violence
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak urged Russia Thursday to demand that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat put an immediate end to the violence that has ripped through the occupied territories for the past seven weeks.
Barak met visiting Russian Foreign Minster Igor Ivanov, and asked him to "unequivocally demand" that Arafat halt violence and incitement immediately, according to a statement from his office.
"Instead of proceeding towards an agreement with Israel which would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, chairman Arafat has chosen the path of violence which endangers regional stability and the interests of the international community," Barak said.
More than 230 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in the unrest that was sparked by a controversial September 28 visit by Israel's hawkish opposition leader Ariel Sharon to a Jerusalem shrine that is holy to both Muslims and Jews.
"(Barak) emphasized that Israel would be unable to remain indifferent to the risks that would stem from a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood and would be compelled to take steps to protect its interests," the statement said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council is due to meet in two weeks to discuss statehood after twice putting off plans to make a formal declaration to establish an independent state – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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