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Israel Rejects Proposal for a New Truce

Israel Rejects Proposal for a New Truce, Targets PM Abbas’ Government

Israel rejected a Palestinian proposal for a new truce and confirmed freezing the peace process as the Palestine National Authority (PNA) Cabinet announced its determination to go ahead with its measures “to put the Palestinian house in order” and “to implement its (roadmap) obligations,” despite the Israeli intensive military deployment, which aims at preventing the PNA government from action.

Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) chaired Saturday the weekly meeting of the PNA Cabinet at his premises in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the second such meeting in three days.

The PNA has entered the “stage of putting the Palestinian internal situation in order on the basis of reinforcing the rule of law, sovereignty of one authority and elimination of the displays of the anarchy of arms,” the Palestinian Minister of Information Nabil Amre said after the meeting.

The Israeli all-out military escalation that accompanied this PNA operation “came to prevent Palestinians from putting their house in order, following their (the Israelis’) attempt to undermine the Palestinian peaceful orientation by killing the Hudna (truce) with assassinations in Nablus and Hebron,” Amre added.

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) extra-judicially assassinated two Hamas activists in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, August 9, killing two other innocent Palestinian civilians in the raid, and on Monday August 13 they assassinated an Islamic Jihad activist in the southern city of Hebron, which provoked the retaliation bus bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday, August 19, in which at least twenty Israelis were killed.

“We have (evidence) what is stronger than doubts that what the (Israeli) government of (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon is doing is an attempt to target Palestinian moderation and the Palestinian government to prevent it from going ahead with what it started both on the international and the internal levels,” the PNA minister of information indicated.

Despite the Israeli obstructive attempts the PNA “will go ahead with implementing our commitments and we know how to honor these commitments,” Amre stressed.

Translating Words into Deeds

Translating words into deeds, the Palestinian security forces on Saturday began a series of raids in the Gaza Strip seizing weapons, shutting down three smugglers’ tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and arresting at least 12 smugglers, a Palestinian security official told AP.

Thirteen suspects were arrested during the Gaza raids, police said. Palestinian security officials said at least 12 of them were arrested for smuggling weapons.

The security forces closed the three tunnels Saturday night with sand, rocks and cement. They had been used for smuggling weapons and drugs from Egypt into the Gaza Strip at the southern town of Rafah.

Moreover, an Israeli security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that PNA Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan ordered stepped-up patrols in the northern Gaza Strip to prevent the firing of homemade rockets at Israel.

Palestinian legislator and former chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the closing of the tunnels reflects the PNA’s determination to enforce the law.

"The obstacle to this (crackdown) now is the Israeli policy of incursions, assassinations, building walls and noncompliance with the roadmap,” he said.

However Nabil Amre said that “whatever arrangements we take, by the leadership and the government, will be extremely difficult to implement on the ground as long as the Israelis recur to their policy of (military) incursions, assassinations and occupation.”

Erekat met Saturday with US envoy John Wolf and urged the United States to pressure Israel to halt what the UN chief Kofi Annan described on Thursday as “extra-judicial” killings of Palestinians.

The PNA Cabinet appealed for international intervention, urging the United States and other countries to help broker a truce following a week of violence.

"We’ve reached a point where the situation is in urgent need of foreign intervention so that we can return to the political track,” Nabil Amre said after the Cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

“We call on the United States to move quickly to save what has remained of possibilities to implement the roadmap plan,” he added.

Israel on Saturday rejected as “not serious” a proposal by the Palestinian leadership for a truce and reiterated its demand that anti Israeli 36-year old occupation groups be dismantled before any resumption of peace talks.

Palestinian officials said Saturday a new truce was possible if the Israelis formally recognized it, pulled out of reoccupied towns and ended their practice of the extra-judicial assassinations, which Israelis call “targeted killings.”

But senior Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner dismissed the suggestion, saying "it is not serious.”

"As long as terrorist organizations continue to exist there will not be the possibility of a real ceasefire,” he told AFP.

Osama al-Baz, the top adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, triggered the effort for a new truce Friday in an impromptu visit to see President Arafat and other Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.

Israeli Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir said that PNA’s Saturday’s action was not enough, and Israel expects Palestinian state security minister Mohammed Dahlan to arrest those involved in violence against Israel.

"We expect Dahlan to take his 20,000 troops and to start making arrests of the terrorists,” he said. "We don't need any more words.”

Separately the PNA Cabinet, following its meeting in Ramallah, stressed that “President Yasser Arafat is the elected president of the Palestinian people. We reject any attempt to hurt him morally or physically. This elected president is the leader of the Palestinian people. We reject any attempt to blackmail him or us through the Israeli deplorable incitement against the president and the Palestinian leaderships,” Amre announced after the Cabinet’s meeting.

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