Sharon Claims he Won Full US Support for ‘not Surrendering to Palestinian Violence’
Wrapping a three-day visit to Washington, Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that he has won full support in Washington for his position of “not surrendering to Palestinian violence,” according to Haaretz newspaper.
"There is complete American agreement and understanding that we cannot surrender to violence and terrorism," Sharon was quoted as telling Army Radio.
He also repeated his refusal to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. "There will be no peace negotiations under the threat of terrorism and violence," he said.
Sharon accused on Wednesday Palestinian President Yasser Arafat of being the stumbling block to Middle East peace, said reports.
According to Haaretz, there was no immediate response to Sharon's remarks from the Americans.
Despite his remarks, Sharon faced pressure during his visit to ease economic sanctions against the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Sharon, said The Jerusalem Post, must have been encouraged by Bush's remarks after their Tuesday meeting that the US does not plan to impose a peace deal on the Israelis and Palestinians. Within the same context, the White House announced that Bush has decided to cease the CIA's role as a mediator between Israeli and Palestinian security services, reported the Washington Post newspaper.
The paper quotes a senior administration official saying that "Our experience is that the best security talks are those that occur between Israelis and Palestinians directly."
Initial reaction at the CIA was one of relief, according to the US daily.
"No one here is upset about missing out on the opportunity to engage," an unnamed CIA official told the Post.
CIA chief George Tenet, who met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this week in Washington, has played a pivotal role until now in trying to facilitate the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian security.
In another development, Former US Senator George Mitchell, who heads an international committee looking into the causes of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence, said Thursday he hoped to have a report ready by the end of April.
The committee "will do its best to act fairly, impartially, truthfully and constructively," said Mitchell.
But he stressed, according to Haaretz, that his report may not solve all the problems, but only address them.
"We do not have the authority or mandate to solve all the problems but that this does not mean the committee would not work hard to see peace prevail in this region, Haaretz quoted him as saying.
AFP quoted Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo as saying, after meeting the committee members, that its arrival in the Palestinian areas had been long awaited.
"Our challenge now is not to review grievances - it is to revive confidence in a dialogue which has not brought the Palestinians any closer to freedom (and) how to move from a process of desperate confrontation to a process of trust," he said.
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported that Israeli police officers arrested three Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Houssan, near Bethlehem, on alleged charges of involvement in terror attacks on Israelis.
A resident of the village of El Khader, also near Bethlehem, was arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in the area, said the Post, quoting Israel Radio.
In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army reported earlier in the day that army troops killed a Palestinian while he was trying to plant explosive devices near kibbutz Nir Am.
The radio report, quoted by The Jerusalem Post, said that "army forces thwarted an attempt by three Palestinian terrorists to plant an explosive device near Kibbutz Nir Am."
The kibbutz is located within the Green Line, between the Israeli town of Sderot and the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.
"IDF forces spotted three Palestinians as they were setting the device and opened fire on them," a military spokesman told the radio.
According to the report, the body of one of the "terrorist" was discovered adjacent to the kibbutz this morning, on the Israeli side of the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel."
In another development, Rashid Abu-Shabak, deputy head of Palestinian preventative security in the Gaza Strip, said that 150 Palestinians had been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Israel.
Rashid, quoted by Haaretz as telling Al-Quds newspaper, added that 11 plots to assassinate prominent Palestinians had also been uncovered.
He added that a Palestinian collaborator, Suhel Zakut had been arrested, adding that he had photographed the houses of Palestinian leaders, undergone technical training and used the Internet and a personal computer to communicate with his controllers.
In January, the Palestinian Authority publicly executed two Palestinians convicted of collaborating with Israel – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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