Sharon, Abbas hold ”tense” summit as Israeli forces intensify operations against Islamic Jihad
The growing number of incidents in the Palestinian territories dominated the agenda at Tuesday afternoon's summit meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting, which lasted almost three hours, was "tense," Israel's Channel 2 TV reported. No statements were made after the summit.
During the meeting, Sharon urged Abbas to take action against armed groups. According to Israeli sources, Sharon told Abbas that "terrorism" weakens the Israeli public's support for the so called "disengagement plan."
On his part, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said after the meeting that the Palestinians demanded the release of Marwan Baragouthi, who was sentenced by Israel to five life imprisonments, as well as the release of former Palestinian Legislative Council member Hussam Khader.
Sources in Tel Aviv were quoted as saying by Haaretz daily before the talks that Sharon planned to tell Abbas that he was deeply concerned by the PA's "inaction" in the face of the escalating number of attacks, mainly by Islamic Jihad.
Sharon, the sources said prior to the summit, will demand that Abbas and his Interior Minister, Nasser Yousef, who will join him to the meeting, present a detailed plan for how the PA security services intend to prevent attacks on soldiers and settlers during Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August.
Part of the meeting was also probably devoted to finalizing the agreement that Sharon and Abbas have reached regarding the razing of the settlers' houses following the pullout.
Meanwhile, Israel plans to step up operations against Islamic Jihad. Israeli forces nabbed Monday night 50 Islamic Jihad activists. 24 of them were captured near Hebron in the West Bank, 12 in Bethlehem and all the rest around Qalqilyah, Ramallah and Jenin.
On Tuesday afternoon, Israeli sources confirmed that an airstrike near the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya was an attempt to kill and Islamic Jihad activist. Palestinian sources said two missiles were fired at the man, but no one was injured in the attack.
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- Sharon says Israel couldn't hold Gaza Strip forever; Abbas expects full Israeli withdrawal from W. Bank
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