Sharon vetoes plan to declare yearlong truce with Palestiniansgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Israel Prime Minister Sharon vetoes plan to declare yearlong truce with Palestinians
By Yoav Appel, Associated Press, 1/1/2002 04:50
JERUSALEM (AP) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday vetoed a plan by Israel's president to declare a year-long truce with the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops seized four suspected militants in two incursions into Palestinian territory and a senior Palestinian official said U.S. mediator Anthony Zinni is to return to the region on Thursday. Israeli officials said they were not aware Zinni was set to return. U.S. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sharon told President Moshe Katsav that he strongly disapproves of an idea to have Katsav declare such a truce in a speech before the Palestinian parliament, said a senior Sharon aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The idea was first raised by a former Israeli Arab legislator, Abdel Wahab Darawsheh, who referred to the truce to be declared as a ''hudna,'' a term from Arab tribal law describing a specific period of non-belligerence. Darawsheh said the plan had the backing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Katsav indicated he was interested in delivering the speech.
However, the Sharon aide dismissed the ''hudna'' idea as public relations ploy by Arafat, and suggested Katsav had been misled by the Palestinian leader. Last month, Israel's Cabinet, responding to a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, declared Arafat ''irrelevant'' to Israel's fight against terrorism.
The role of the Israeli president is largely ceremonial, and it is unusual for the president to get involved in policy-making. Katsav said Sunday he would not act without Sharon's blessing.
According to the Yediot Ahronot daily, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also opposes the plan. ''We are trying to produce a cease-fire for generations, forever,'' Peres told the newspaper. ''We want to end the cycle of terror and not just for a single year, as the president proposes.''
Peres has been holding informal talks with Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qureia on a framework for a possible peace deal. As a first step toward a treaty, before tackling the future of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, Israel would recognize a Palestinian state. However, the two sides remain far apart on the dimensions of such a state.
The Israeli daily Haaretz said in an unattributed report Tuesday that Palestinian and Egyptian officials are working on yet another proposal a long-term interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Under the plan, Israel would withdraw from some additional territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the Palestinians now have full or partial control over 42 percent of the West Bank and about two-thirds of Gaza. The status of the Palestinian Authority would be upgraded to that of ''less than a state'' and the two sides would not set target dates for a permanent agreement, Haaretz said.
Also Tuesday, Israeli troops and tanks entered the northern West Bank village of Qabatya and arrested three Palestinians brothers. The army said one of those detained was a member of the Islamic militant group Hamas.
In the Gaza Strip, an Israeli undercover unit seized a member of the Palestinian security services in a Palestinian neighborhood just south of the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, Palestinian security officials said.
Zinni, the U.S. envoy, broke off his first Mideast mission in mid-December, amid a sharp escalation of violence. At the time, U.S. officials sharply criticized Arafat for not doing enough to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilians.
Since then, Arafat has renewed his call for a truce and has arrested scores of members of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. There has been a significant drop in attacks on Israelis since Arafat's Dec. 16 truce call, but Israel's government has said Arafat needs to do more before peace talks can resume.
-- Anonymous, January 01, 2002