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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Palestinian militants reject peace plea
Palestinian militants
Militants said armed attacks will continue
Palestinian militant groups have rejected a call by the Palestinian interior minister for a complete end to attacks against Israel.

Abdel Razak al-Yahiya on Monday said Palestinian violence was undermining the struggle for statehood and should be replaced by peaceful forms of resistance.


All forms of Palestinian violence have to stop

Abdel Razak al-Yahiya, Palestinian interior minister
But radical Palestinian groups have dismissed his appeal, saying armed resistance will continue as long as Israel stayed in the West Bank.

There was further bloodshed in the West Bank on Tuesday, when two Palestinians were killed by Israeli tanks, according to Palestinian sources.

The two victims were hit by shells in the village of Burin, south of Nablus, Palestinian security officials said.

Plea rejected

Mr Yahiya's call for an end to armed attacks was the furthest-reaching by a leading Palestinian since the Palestinian uprising began nearly two years ago.

"All forms of Palestinian violence have to stop," the interior minister told Reuters news agency.

Aftermath of suicide bombing
Palestinian militants have carried out scores of suicide bombings

"All resistance acts that are characterised by violence, such as using arms or even throwing stones... are harmful. I call for civil resistance within the framework of the political struggle," he said.

But, in separate and joint statements on Tuesday, Palestinian groups at the forefront of attacks against Israel vowed to continue fighting.

"There will be no end to resistance until the end of occupation," the al-Aqsa Brigades, an armed group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, told Reuters.

Another group, Islamic Jihad, said it "will not pay attention to these [Yahiya's] nonsense statements and will pursue resistance in all forms because this is what the Palestinian people want".

Senior Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah al-Shami said Mr Yahiya was caving in to Israeli and US demands.

Closed-door talks

The Palestinian interior minister, who is overseeing reform of the Palestinian security forces, has met militant leaders over the past few weeks to try to end the violence.

Palestinian officials said in July they came close to an agreement with militants on ending attacks in Israel but that the tentative deal was scuppered by an Israeli missile attack on Gaza which killed 15 people.

Israel has demanded a complete end to attacks by Palestinian militants before peace talks can resume.

Radical Palestinian groups have killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings and other armed attacks since the uprising began in September 2000.


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