Newsletter : 2fax0419.txt
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Bush: "Sharon is a Man of Peace"
President Bush on Thursday called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "a
man of peace," adding "I am certain Israel wants to exist in peace
with its neighbor." The president expressed satisfaction with the
staged IDF troop withdrawal from PA autonomous areas, explaining
that Sharon was keeping to the schedule presented to the White
Gunfire, Explosions Near Church of the Nativity
By VOA News
Gunfire and explosions have been heard near Bethlehem's Church of
the Nativity, where Israeli troops are keeping Palestinian gunmen
inside under siege. Media reports said the blasts came from stun
grenades, and that there were signs of a fire near the Christian
holy site. There has been no word on casualties. Earlier Thursday,
a meeting to negotiate an end to the 16-day standoff was canceled.
Meanwhile, Israel said it arrested a military leader of the radical
Islamic Hamas movement, Hossam Badran. Israel Radio said three
other Palestinians were killed as Israeli troops captured Badran in
the northern West Bank Thursday. It said Israeli helicopters had
spotted the suspected terrorist traveling by car.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan repeated his
call for Israel to accept deployment of a large armed international
force in the West Bank to help end escalating Israeli-Palestinian
violence. Speaking to a closed session of the Security Council,
Annan appealed to the international community to quickly send the
force to end what he called "the tragic and terrifying descent into
bloodletting" that is gripping the West Bank.
But Annan, who elaborated on last week's proposal international
armed presence in the region, said an international force could
only succeed if Israelis and Palestinians commit to a peace
process. Israel has rejected previous calls for such a force.
The proposal is now before the Security Council. The
Secretary-General wants the Council to authorize it under a section
of the U.N. Charter that would permit the force to be sufficiently
armed and take enforcement action if necessary.
Bush Satisfied With Israeli Withdrawal Timetable
By Paula Wolfson (VOA-Washington)
President Bush said Israel is living up to its promised timetable
for withdrawal from Palestinian areas in the West Bank. But at the
same time, he said, Yasir Arafat must match his condemnation of
terrorism with action.
Bush originally called almost two weeks ago for a total Israeli
withdrawal without delay. Israel responded with its own timetable
for a phased pullout. The president is trying to put that turn of
events in the best possible light, saying the withdrawals are
continuing. "History will show that they have responded," the
president said. " And, as the prime minister said, he gave me a
timetable, and he has met the timetable."
Bush said he still wants to see a complete withdrawal, but that he
understands there are extraordinary circumstances in Ramallah and
In Ramallah, Israel said, five men wanted in the death of an
Israeli Cabinet minister have taken refuge in Arafat's
Bush said Israel appears to be meeting its responsibilities. He
says he is still waiting for action from the Palestinian leader.
"Mr. Arafat did condemn terror. And now, we will hold him to
account," Bush said.
The president spoke at the start of a meeting with Secretary of
State Colin Powell, who just completed a mission to the region.
Bush said Powell made progress, although he failed to achieve a
"The situation prior to the secretary's arrival was at a boiling
point. And, thanks to his hard work, he has laid out not only a
vision of hope, which is important, but has convinced others that
these terrorist acts will forever and constantly undermine the
capacity for peace."
It is unclear what the Bush administration will do next to try to
ease the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer downplayed the notion that Powell would return quickly to
the region. But he stressed the United States would remain engaged,
and is pushing the goals laid out by the president in early April.
Ze'evi's Son Explains Transfer Idea
Palmach Ze'evi, son of PA-terrorism victim Tourism Minister Rehavam
Ze'evi, is running against Benny Elon for the leadership of the
Moledet party. The party was founded by the late Ze'evi, who was
murdered in Jerusalem six months ago.
Speaking at an Independence Day celebration in Beit El this week,
Palmach explained bitingly why transfer is the only solution to the
"The various parties propose different solutions to the
Israeli-Arab conflict. Most of them don't even manage to remain
faithful to their proposal for even one term [four years] before
they change it. Even our brothers in the NRP have a proposal:
autonomy, they call it, autonomy for the Arabs of Judea, Samaria,
and Gaza. I ask you: Is it conceivable that we could keep three
million Arabs, without the right to vote and without national
identity? And when they grow and become five or seven million, who
will be able to control this boiling pot when they will one day
demand national independence?
"The only way that will solve this problem from the very roots is
that of Moledet. Two nations cannot live on this Promised Land; one
of them will have to give up its place, totally, in favor of the
other; otherwise, we are inviting a perpetual bloodbath. The
establishment of the State 54 years ago seemed then to be even less
practical and realistic than the transfer idea seems now: a small
unarmed people against all the Arab nations and armies. But, we did
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