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The BBC's Fergus Nicoll
"Both sides have been asked by the US to keep quiet on the subject until the so far draft report is finalised"
 real 56k

The BBC's Hilary Andersson in Jerusalem
"It's taken a very delicate line"
 real 56k

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Mid-East report under scrutiny
Sharon's controversial visit to disputed holy sites
Palestinians want Sharon to be blamed for the uprising
A US-led commission has submitted its report to Israeli and Palestinian officials on the causes of seven months of violence in the Middle East.

The two sides have been given two weeks to examine the report, during which they have been asked not to make any public comment.

Former US Senator George Mitchell
Mitchell has been looking into seven months of violence
Although the report is secret, it is thought not to contain any call for the deployment of international observers, nor does it lay clear blame for who started the violence.

This is likely to disappoint the Palestinians, who have insisted on international intervention and who say the original cause of months of violence was Ariel Sharon's visit to sensitive holy sites in Jerusalem last September.

The commission was set up at an Arab-Israeli summit last October under former US Senator George Mitchell but has been dogged by difficulties ever since.

Shelling

The announcement came as Israeli tanks fired shells at a Palestinian police post near Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Earlier, two mortar bombs fell on a nearby kibbutz in southern Israel.

Neither attack is reported to have caused any injuries, although the Israeli shells damaged the police post.

The attacks came in a relative lull in clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

Girl in Gaza with picture of dead brother
Palestinians are mourning their dead during the lull in violence
At least 500 people have died since Palestinians began a widespread uprising against Israeli occupation in September, including about 420 Palestinians and 75 Israelis Jews.

Mr Sharon - who became prime minister in February - has gone so far as to describe the Mitchell commission report as an "historic mistake" because, he said, no one had the right to put Israel on trial.

The report is thought to focus on ways of finding an end to the violence, without which Israel says there can be no peace talks.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | Middle East
Israel considers peace plan response
27 Apr 01 | Middle East
Jerusalem's beleaguered tourist trade
25 Apr 01 | Middle East
Gaza blast kills four
08 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Mitchell gets Middle East role
03 May 01 | Middle East
Bush gives Peres hope for peace
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