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The BBC's Bill Hayton
"Sharon will not start negotiations until there have been six weeks of peace"
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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
Mid-East killings go on despite truce
Funeral cortege of slain settler Yehuda Dan
Yehuda Dan's body was taken past the PM's office
The death toll after five days of a fragile US-brokered Middle East truce increased on Monday when two Jewish settlers and a Palestinian lost their lives as a result of separate shooting incidents.

Sharon's government has fallen into the trap of the so-called ceasefire and lifted the siege on Palestinian towns, so it is responsible

Settlers' council statement
Eight people have now been killed in clashes since the ceasefire came into force last Wednesday.

The settlers killed on Monday died in Palestinian ambushes in the West Bank while a Palestinian youth who was shot the day before by Israeli troops died of his wounds.

Meanwhile, a Gaza family buried their 12-year-old son who they say was shot by Israeli troops on Sunday as he watched other boys throwing stones at the soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said he is resisting pressure from settlers to abandon the truce and launch an all-out war on the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon: Under pressure from the right
However, he also reiterated his unshakable opposition to political negotiations with the Palestinians against a backdrop of violence.

Talks have continued under US supervision at the level of security officials - the latest coming on Monday afternoon in Tel Aviv.

But a BBC correspondent in Jerusalem says there are growing questions about whether the truce can hold and whether it can be the foundation on which to resume a wider peace process.

Settler anger

After the death of the first settler, the Yesha Council, which represents the 200,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, called for Mr Sharon to impose a military solution to the eight-month Palestinian uprising.

Grieving brother of slain boy Ali Abu Shawesh holds up his portrait
Ali Abu Shawesh (picture right) was shot dead on Sunday
"Sharon's government has fallen into the trap of the so-called ceasefire and lifted the siege on Palestinian towns, so it is responsible" for settler Yehuda Dan's death, the council said in a statement.

Mr Sharon - formerly a champion of Yesha's cause - brushed the suggestion aside, saying: "I have no intention of heeding the war cries of some people."

"War can only be the last resort and nothing justifies it in the current situation," he added.


After news of the second death, settlers went on a rampage of vandalism in the Palestinian village of Umm Safa near Ramallah, French news agency AFP reported, quoting settler sources.

The police intervened and made arrests, but dozens of settlers then turned on the police to free their arrested comrades.

Palestinians watch as Israeli bulldozer clears road block
A bulldozer cleared a blocked road near Halhul
The Israeli army said it had begun easing its blockade on the West Bank on Monday, pulling back tanks, opening some roads and removing checkpoints.

A spokeswoman said it was part of the implementation of the ceasefire, which was negotiated by American Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet.

However, Palestinian witnesses said all main roads across the territory remained closed and in some areas the army had even tightened the blockade by sealing off side roads.

The Israeli army also announced that it had reimposed the blockade on the Palestinian town of Tulkarm and reinstated several roadblocks in the region following the attacks on settlers.

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