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Israel Rejects PNA Offer for ‘Permanent’ Truce

Israel Rejects Palestinian Offer for ‘Permanent’ Truce

Shaath, Shalom Set up Bilateral Panel on Foreign Affairs

The Palestinian foreign minister on Sunday proposed a “permanent truce” in the conflict with Israel if the Jewish state implemented its part of the US-sponsored “roadmap” to peace but his Israeli counterpart rejected the offer, demanding instead the total break up of Palestinian anti-Israeli occupation groups.

''We are ready to extend the truce through dialogue with Palestinian groups if the Israelis make real steps to implement the roadmap,” the Palestine National Authority (PNA) Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told Reuters after his meeting with his counterpart Silvan Shalom at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Shaath said he and Shalom failed to agree on the idea because ''the Israelis asked us to destroy the Palestinian organizations and arrest the leaders of the organizations.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is reportedly due to meet with faction leaders in Gaza for further national dialogue on the status quo and the Hudna (truce).

Shalom confirmed that he rejected an offer made by his Palestinian counterpart for a “absolute and permanent” cease-fire, Haaretz reported.

Israel’s Channel One television quoted Shalom as telling Shaath that Israel would not move to the next stage of the US-backed “roadmap”, which envisages a Palestinian state by 2005, until the PNA dismantled what he described as the “terror infrastructure.”

Palestinian officials warn of a civil war if they crack down against anti-Israeli occupation groups and say the most effective way of halting violence in a 34-month-old uprising for independence is if Israel implements its part of the peace plan.

Shaath said he told Shalom that further Israeli withdrawals from reoccupied West Bank towns and other steps to allow Palestinians freedom of movement could make it possible for the PNA government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with the Palestinian factions.

“Their reaction was that they were insistent that this is not enough, and they were insistent on the Palestinians dismantling the militant infrastructure,” Shaath told The Associated Press.

The major Palestinian groups declared a temporary cease-fire on June 29 and although there have been sporadic attacks since, the level of violence has plummeted.

Shalom however said that their meeting had "helped build a platform of cooperation between us.”

Shaath said that Shalom agreed to his invitation to visit the premises of the PNA Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah or in Gaza.

Both men agreed to set up a bilateral committee to discuss foreign affairs issues, Shaath told Al-Quds daily.

Separately on Sunday, PNA Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan met with Brigadier General Amos Gilad, head of the security and political team in the Israeli “Defense” Ministry and coordinator of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to discuss an Israeli offer to withdraw from Jericho and Qalqiliya in the West Bank.

Israel first proposed this last week in a meeting between Dahlan and Israeli “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz, but the Palestinians insisted on a pullout from Ramallah instead.

A statement by Dahlan’s office accused the Israeli side of giving “no genuine commitment” to taking down roadblocks and other barriers around the two towns.

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