Israel to Set up Internal Inquiry into Violence
Israel is to set up an internal commission of inquiry into recent clashes between police and Israeli Arabs, the prime minister's office announced Tuesday, although it rejects any international inquiry into the violence in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had a meeting lasting three and a half hours with leaders of the Arab Israeli community, including several MPs, Tuesday, a statement from his office said.
He told them he intended to set up a "team headed by an independent person to investigate and clarify recent events in a credible, responsible and direct fashion," the statement said.
He said he had directed the police to act with "maximum restraint" and called on the Arabs not to violate the law or attack law enforcers.
Ten Israeli Arabs have died in clashes with Israeli police since Friday.
In addition to the commission of inquiry, he said the government has prepared a five year plan to improve the conditions of the Arab sector.
The Arab Israeli community consists of about one million people out of a total population of 6.3 million. They are those Palestinians and their descendants who remained in their homes after the state of Israel was established in 1948.
Earlier, a spokesman for Barak announced that the Israeli government rejected any international investigation into the violent clashes in the Palestinian territories.
A total of 66 people have died since Thursday in the violence that has swept through the West Bank and Gaza, spilling into the Arab areas of Israel.
It was sparked by a controversial visit Thursday by right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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