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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
EU tries to shore up ceasefire
Javier Solana and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres
Javier Solana meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, has met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the international community continues to try and shore up a US-brokered ceasefire.

According to the Israeli government press office, Mr Sharon reiterated that Israel will only move forward with the ceasefire timetable after "the complete cessation of violence, terrorism and incitement".

Mr Sharon said the countdown for a seven-day testing period for the ceasefire could only begin "when there is complete quiet".

Ariel Sharon
Sharon: No change
Israel and the Palestinians blame each other for ceasefire's breakdown and a recent spiral of violence.

On Tuesday, the funerals took place of an Israeli and a Palestinian, the two latest victims of the fighting.

Mr Solana, who also met with Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, is the latest in a steady procession of high-level visitors trying to find ways to stop the violence.

Lukewarm welcome

But BBC Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner said Mr Solana was likely to get only a lukewarm welcome.

Israelis suspect the European Union and the UN of being biased against them.


In this way, we can get the EU off our back

Israeli Government source reported in the Israeli press
Mr Solana was expected to press Israel's government to accept the deployment of monitors to help reduce the violence.

Israel's leaders have long resisted the deployment of a multinational force, or even international observers, saying this would internationalise their conflict with the Palestinians.

So far Israel has indicated it would only welcome a handful of additional American monitors from the Central Intelligence Agency.

A source close to the Israeli prime minister was quoted on Tuesday in the Ma'ariv newspaper as saying that having American monitors was in Israel's interests.

The paper quotes the source as saying "in this way, we can get the EU off our back".

But pressure is mounting on Israel to accept some form of effective third-party monitoring.

Last week, foreign ministers from the world's leading industrialised countries agreed on the need to deploy monitors. They see this as the only war to shore up the so-called ceasefire and restart the Middle East peace process.

Mr Solana is due to meet Yasser Arafat on Wednesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Barnaby Mason
"The monitors would in effect oversee the implementation of the Mitchell Report"
See also:

19 Jul 01 | Middle East
US backs Mid-East observers
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
Arabs want US to push Israel
20 Jul 01 | Middle East
Palestinian rage over infant death
20 Jul 01 | Middle East
Killing hints at extremist revival
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