Israel: army to expand operations, peace talks when violence stops : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israel: army to expand operations, peace talks when violence stops Monday, 9 October 2000 23:53 (ET)

Israel: army to expand operations, peace talks when violence stops By JOSHUA BRILLIANT

TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Israel's Cabinet Tuesday ordered the army to expand defensive operations and said that negotiations on a permanent agreement with the Palestinians will resume only after the violence stops.

However, in a move suggesting Israel was leaving the door open to participation in a U.S.-initiated summit, the Cabinet said that other contacts, "including (contacts) to stop the violence and so on will be discussed on their merits."

Cabinet Secretary Yitzhak Herzog read the statement that said that Barak instructed the army and security forces "to enhance and expand the scope of their activity in defending the state's citizens and its soldiers with all suitable means." This did not seem to go as far as Barak threatened Saturday when he said that unless violence stops by Monday night the army would use "all their means."

Israel Radio said the army would retaliate harsher with attack helicopters and tanks, restrict Palestinian entry to its territory, close the safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, restrict trucks' entry, tighten the blockade around the West Bank town of Nablus and keep Gaza airport closed.

The Cabinet also took note of Barak's statement that "political negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the essential elements of the permanent agreement will be resumed after the cessation of the violence that has been for the last 10 days."

A statement the prime minister's office early Tuesday indicated the ministers tended to give more time for peace efforts.

Barak told the ministers that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was responsible for the violence, did not put an end to it and, "No government can accept a continuation of this situation.

"We all want peace with the Palestinian people but their leadership is not ripe now to take courageous decisions despite our far reaching proposals."

On Saturday night Barak publicly warned, "If we will not see a change in the patterns of violence in the coming two days, we shall consider it a cessation of the political process by Arafat, at his responsibility and initiative, and shall order the Israel Defense Forces and the security forces to use all their means to bring about a cessation of violence."

Since then the United States has been trying to arrange a regional summit meeting; U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew in to Tel Aviv to meet Arafat and Barak; Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was to see Barak Tuesday and the EU's envoy Javier Solana was to see Barak.

Barak was looking to expand his government, trying to take back parties that walked out on Barak in July just before he went to the Camp David summit.

The Israeli authorities extended a ban on West Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs entry into Israel. Israel Radio said the government is concerned that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants whom the Palestinians released from jail might launch terrorist attacks. Israel also blocked the southern exit from Bethlehem that leads to Hebron after shots were fired from the autonomous Palestinian territory there.

The most serious incident reported Monday was the killing of a rabbinical student and teacher at Joseph's Tomb near Nablus that Israel evacuated.

Palestinians rioted in the Ramallah area after the Voice of Palestine radio said settlers killed Issam Joudeh. Palestinians said settlers set fire to the car and burned Joudeh's body. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Monday an investigation showed Joudeh was killed in a road accident.

In other incidents five Israeli soldiers were injured in the Gaza Strip by gunfire, an explosive charge, and a grenade.

-- Carl Jenkins (, October 10, 2000

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