Top Israeli Ministers Pursuing Contacts with Arafat to End Violence
Israel is pursuing top-level contacts with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to try to push for an end to the violence that has rocked the Palestinian territories for more than a month, officials said Wednesday.
Israeli Transport Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak met with Arafat on Tuesday and former prime minister Shimon Peres is due to meet him later Wednesday, Israeli officials said.
"The purpose of the meetings is to ensure that the violence will stop," Prime Minister Ehud Barak's top security advisor Danny Yatom told Israel's Channel Two television station ahead of a security cabinet meeting to be chaired by Barak.
"We're not going to put up with the violence," he said, but added: "We are not going to stop the violence only through military actions. We need to combine those with dialogue."
Earlier, an Israeli official said that Lipkin-Shahak, a former army chief who is a close aide of Barak, had met Arafat on Tuesday.
The meeting was the first such direct high-level encounter between the two sides since the eruption of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence on September 28 that has left at least 165 people dead.
Although Arafat and Barak attended the Sharm el-Sheikh summit earlier this month aimed at quelling the violence they did not have direct talks.
The official added that Israeli businessman Yossi Ginosar, a former official with the Shin Beth domestic security service, who is considered close to Arafat, was also present at the meeting.
Peres is also due to meet Arafat later Wednesday in Gaza City, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
"The meeting will take place in Gaza between Shimon Peres and President Arafat," a Palestinian official said, adding that Peres had asked for the meeting through Arab members of the Israeli parliament.
The two men, along with slain Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, shared the Nobel peace prize after forging the 1993 Oslo peace accords -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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