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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
US backs Israel over suicide attacks
Mourners at the funeral of Moshe Gotlieb, one of 19 killed in a bomb attack on Tuesday
Nineteen Israeli were killed in Tuesday's bomb attack
The United States has backed Israel's right to defend itself after the Israeli Government announced plans to temporarily reoccupy Palestinian-ruled areas in response to Tuesday's suicide attack.


Against terrorist acts, Israel will respond by capturing territories of the Palestinian Authority. These territories will be held by Israel as long as terror continues

Israeli Government statement
A total of 19 Israelis, including several children, were killed in the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem - the worst such incident in the city for six years.

"The president believes that Israel is in the middle of recovering from a very serious attack and that Israel has a right to defend itself," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

At the same time, the president hoped that "whatever actions Israel takes will be cognizant of the fact that the path to peace must still be pursued, and Israel has to remember the consequences of its actions today for what happens tomorrow."

President Bush has been expected to outline an American vision for the setting up of a Palestinian state.

But on Wednesday, hours after another suicide bomber struck at a bus stop in Jerusalem, killing six people, White House officials said Mr Bush would delay his speech.

"It's obvious the immediate aftermath is not the right time, " Mr Fleischer said.

"The president wants to give a speech at a time when it will have the maximum impact to bring the maximum prospects for peace to the region."

Palestinian officials have denounced the new Israeli policy of reoccupation and said it is likely to provoke further violence.


Any resistance to this occupation now will be legitimate and accepted by all Palestinians against the occupiers

Ahmed Abdel-Rahman
Yasser Arafat aide
The move followed an Israeli cabinet decision to seize and hold on to parts of the West Bank "as long as terror continues".

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made it clear Israel may seize more towns.

"Additional acts of terror will lead to the taking of additional areas," a statement issued by his office early on Wednesday said.

Before Tuesday's suicide attack, Israel had talked about short-term operations to arrest wanted militants and confiscate weapons.

An Israeli security official said the new policy would essentially amount to bigger and longer incursions.

He said that to fully reoccupy Palestinian towns, the army would have to call up reservists and take on responsibility for civil administration - something it is not yet prepared to do.

'Occupiers and invaders'

Palestinians have reacted with fury to the Israeli Government statement.

Israeli soldiers at the Salem checkpoint outside Jenin
Israeli forces at the checkpoint outside Jenin
"Any resistance to this occupation now will be legitimate and accepted by all Palestinians against the occupiers and the invaders of Palestinian sovereign areas," said Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, an aide to Yasser Arafat.

The Israeli army has recently been carrying out regular raids on towns such as Jenin, which are viewed as bastions of militants and future suicide bombers.


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