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Khalid al-Ammayreh of Middle East International
"The Israelis would seek to by-pass the [Mitchell] report altogether"
 real 28k

The BBC's Peter Biles
"The Israelis are determined that they will take action whenever necessary"
 real 56k

Dore Gold, Senior adviser to Ariel Sharon
"Israel does maintain the right to do what is necessary to defend its people"
 real 56k

Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Israel sticks to settlement policy
A house in Bethlehem being shelled by Israeli tanks
Violence continues as Mitchell report is considered
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has flatly rejected a US-led commisssion's plea to end building Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Mr Sharon was responding at a cabinet meeting to an unpublished report into the seven months of violence by an international team led by former American senator George Mitchell.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Arafat wants a meeting with the Israelis to discuss the Mitchell report
In the latest clashes, Israeli tanks moved into Palestinian territory south of Jerusalem; one Palestinian was killed in the exchange of fire.

The Mitchell report was handed to the Israelis and the Palestinians on Friday and they were asked not to make any public comment on it for a fortnight.

Leaks

But there have been several leaks: One extract says that it will be hard to stop the violence unless all settlement building in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is frozen.

Mr Sharon reluctantly met the Mitchell commission when it was gathering evidence in Israel. But he described the investigation as an "historic mistake".

Report findings?
Freeze on settlements
Neither side blamed for violence
No peacekeeping force needed
Criticises Palestinian security forces
Israel to end use of rubber-coated bullets
Mr Sharon said on Sunday that settlements should only be discussed "within the framework of the final status negotiations," according to Israeli radio.

Palestinians have broadly welcomed the report because of its recommendation on settlement building.

But their most often repeated demand - for a peacekeeping force to be sent to the region - is not echoed in the report, according to sources.

Tel Aviv bomb

The violence continued on Sunday with a bomb blast in a suburb of Tel Aviv and shooting in the West Bank.

The blast happened near a bus station in Petah Tikva during the morning rush hour. The police said the bomb was placed in a rubbish bin.

One woman was lightly injured.

In Beit Jalla, just to the south of Jerusalem, the Israeli army fired tank rounds at gunmen after entering the Palestinian-controlled area.

The Israeli army said that the gunmen had been firing at motorists on a road linking Jerusalem with a Jewish settlement.

Palestinian sources say that one man was killed in the clash.

Beit Jalla is often used as a base for attacks on the Jewish settlement of Gilo.

Rejection

Israel has rebuffed a call by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a summit to discuss the findings of the Mitchell report.

Responding to Mr Arafat's initiative, the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, said on Saturday that such a meeting would be possible only if it was clear "what its outcome will be and how it will start".

"It cannot start while the shooting continues... Either you shoot or you talk," he told Israeli television.

Mr Arafat called for an international summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss the report.

Mr Arafat was speaking after discussing the draft report with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

The Mitchell commission was set up after a major summit in Sharm el-Sheikh last October.

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See also:

05 May 01 | Middle East
Report criticises Israeli settlements
04 May 01 | Middle East
Mid-East report under scrutiny
27 Apr 01 | Middle East
Israel considers peace plan response
23 Apr 01 | Middle East
Palestinians admit suicide bombing
25 Apr 01 | Middle East
Gaza blast kills four
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