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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Sharon calls off truce talks
Aftermath of Israeli attack in Nuseirat, Gaza
Palestinians accuse Israel of escalating the violence
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said there must be two days of "absolute calm" before he will allow talks to be held with the Palestinians.

Speaking at a special session of the Israeli parliament, Mr Sharon said he would end Israeli military raids against Palestinian targets if Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called a ceasefire.


The one who gave legitimacy decades ago for airline hijacking was Arafat

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister
An Israeli soldier, meanwhile, is reported to have been shot dead while trying to carry out arrests in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Ramallah.

The AFP news agency quotes an Israeli army spokesman as saying the soldier was killed when Palestinians fired on his unit as it tried to arrest members of Mr Arafat's Force 17 guards.

A second soldier was wounded in the attack, AFP reported.

Incursion

The ambush is reported to have happened after Israeli tanks with helicopter support thrust into the centre of Ramallah, killing a member of the Palestinian security forces and wounding 15 others in several hours of fighting.

Ali Khader Jaber, 26, was shot in the stomach when he went out on to the roof of his house after hearing shooting, Palestinian hospital sources said.


Some tanks stopped only a few metres from the Palestinian Legislative Council building, witnesses said.

Helicopters continued to swoop overhead as the tanks rolled back to their positions outside Ramallah, spraying bullets from the air, the witnesses said.

Loudspeakers in local mosques called on residents to go into the streets to resist the Israeli incursion.

The Israeli army said the raid was in response to a shooting attack in Jerusalem on Saturday night in which an Israeli was killed and another injured.

Rebuff to US

Vetoing talks scheduled for Sunday night between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mr Arafat, Mr Sharon said such a meeting "would legitimise Arafat and allow him to continue with terrorism without us being able to do anything against him."

Israeli demonstration in Tel Aviv
Israeli hawks say the Palestinian leader Arafat must renounce armed struggle
Responding to the Israeli leader's comments, Mr Arafat repeated he was already committed to a ceasefire.

The Palestinian leader said he would meet Mr Peres "any place, any time".

BBC correspondent Paul Wood says all of this is a blow to US diplomatic efforts to neutralise the Palestinian issue in order to build a wide coalition including Arab states for his global war on terrorism.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Orla Guerin
"There is a lot of fear here and a lot more hate"
See also:

15 Sep 01 | Middle East
Sharon scraps Mid-East talks
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Arafat fears new Israeli attacks
10 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel's shock at Israeli bomber
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