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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 23:30 GMT
EU adds to pressure on Arafat
Hamas supporters
Hamas has carried out scores of bombings
The European Union has called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to close down what it described as the "terrorist networks" of Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said Mr Arafat should also publicly call for an end to the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel which has continued for over a year.


We think it's time to call a spade a spade

Belgian Foreign Minister
Louis Michel
The ministers said Israel, for its part, should withdraw its military forces from Palestinian areas, freeze settlement building and ease tough measures it has imposed imposed on Palestinians.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana later set off on a three-day peace mission to the region, to try to bridge the gap between the two warring sides.

In an unprecedented statement, the EU demanded the Palestinian Authority commit to "the dismantling of Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's terrorist networks, including the arrest and prosecution of all suspects; a public appeal in Arabic for an end to the armed intifada".

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have carried out dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli targets, including five in the past 10 days.

Palestinians 'must act'

Mr Arafat is under intense pressure from Israel and the international community to crack down on radical militant groups and jail suspected militants.

Aftermath of Haifa bus bombing
Rcent suicide bombings have led to an upsurge in violence

Earlier this month, President George W Bush froze the assets of US-based organisations linked to Hamas, calling the movement "terrorists".

Palestinian security forces say they have rounded up over a hundred militants in the past few days, but the BBC's correspondent in Brussels says there is clearly a new emphasis from the Europeans that the Palestinian Authority could and should do more.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, who chaired the meeting, denied the EU was siding with Israel, which frequently accuses the EU of a pro-Palestinian stance.

Israel - the EU's biggest trading partner - said it was "very encouraged by the European position".

Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said the EU was acting under pressure from the United States and Israel and there was "no way out" of the current violence unless Israel and the Palestinians returned to peace talks.

The EU statement came after European foreign ministers held separate talks with Mr Shaath and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to try to find a way to end the violence which has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Israeli think-tank executive director, Boaz Ganor
"I do not know any more moral and selective offensive measure in counter-terrorism than targeted killings"
The BBC's George Arney
reports from a school in Arab East Jersualem on the impact of the country's violence on children
See also:

10 Dec 01 | Middle East
Israeli missiles kill two children
08 Dec 01 | Middle East
US urged to restrain Israelis
07 Dec 01 | Middle East
Turkish PM says Sharon targets Arafat
05 Dec 01 | Middle East
Mid-East splits Europe and US
04 Dec 01 | Americas
US targets Hamas finances
04 Dec 01 | Middle East
Outrage at Israeli strikes
04 Dec 01 | Middle East
Arafat's Hamas problem
03 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are Hamas?
03 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are Islamic Jihad?
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