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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 9, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 80

Sneh: Americans Should Visit Israel

By Arutz Sheva News

Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh called upon the Conference of Presidents of Major American-Jewish Organizations to show solidarity with Israel and to visit it during its difficult hour.

"It's a disgrace that a large share of the cancellations of El Al trips are by American-Jewish groups. American Jewry must set a personal example and fly to Israel on El AL."

Jewish Settler Killed in West Bank

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Jewish settler killed by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank is the latest victim of Mideast violence.

Palestinian gunmen killed the settler, one day after a four-month-old Palestinian baby became the youngest victim of more than seven months of clashes. Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon says he was sorry for the death of the baby, but refused to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in exchange for Palestinian guarantees of security.

Jewish settler Arieh Orlando was shot dead by the gunmen while guarding empty caravans near the settlement of Itamar in the West Bank.

In other clashes Tuesday, about 20 Palestinian stone-throwers were reported injured after being shot by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the State Department challenged Israel's government to explain why it is spending more money on Jewish settlement activity during this time of volatility. A U.S. spokesman condemned the Israeli move as "provocative."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who visited a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Tuesday accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to increase violence by smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. There was also a demonstration of Jewish West Bank settlers outside Sharon's residence in Jerusalem, demanding more security against Palestinian attacks.

The Palestinian Authority has denied any link to the boat full of weapons, which was recently captured by Israel's navy and claimed to have been sent from Lebanon by a radical Palestinian group.

The U.S. led Mitchell commission into the Israeli-Palestinian violence has called for a freeze on the expansion of Jewish settlements, saying this could help reduce tensions.

But Sharon said this was out of the question. He told foreign journalists in Jerusalem that Jews have the right to live in peace and security, without pre-conditions from the Palestinians. "It is very simple. We will not pay protection money. There is no reason whatsoever to shoot at our people, to kill civilians and we do not have to pay for it and we will not pay for it," he said. "We have the right to live peaceful lives, and we do not have to pay in order not to be killed and murdered."

Sharon: Palestinians Plan to Escalate Violence

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accused the Palestinian Authority of seeking to increase violence by smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Sharon said the Palestinian Authority is trying to import weapons illegally to escalate the seven-month-old conflict with Israel.

Sharon said a Lebanese boat seized by the Israeli navy made a number of trips to the Gaza Strip before being captured. The seized boat contained anti-aircraft missiles, Katyusha rockets and other military hardware.

"There is an attempt to smuggle weapons by the Palestinian Authority. We know that this boat itself, it is the fourth time coming with weapons to Gaza. This time they were caught on a routine patrol. That only emphasizes the intentions of the Palestinian Authority."

Top Palestinian officials have denied any connection with the arms shipment.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated that he holds Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat responsible for the violence. But Sharon said that Arafat will not be targeted by Israeli commandos.

"We are not taking any steps against political leaders. So if you ask if he is safe from our side, yes he is safe from our side. But I do not know if we are the only danger that exists to him," Sharon said.

Ziad Abu Zayyad, a minister in the Palestinian Authority, told VOA that Sharon's charge that Arafat is responsible for the violence undermines efforts to reduce the clashes and revive the peace process.

"I do not understand why Sharon and why the Israeli government try all the time to discredit the Palestinian leadership, discredit Arafat, while the Palestinian leadership and Arafat are their partners in the peace process," he said. "If you discredit your partner you discredit the process and you discredit yourself. You say to everyone that this process is not valid or relevant anymore."

Israel and the Palestinians accuse each other of escalating the violence that has killed more than 500 people, mostly Palestinians, since last September.

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