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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Arafat renews truce offer
Yasser Arafat addresses supporters in Ramallah on 14 September
Arafat's party will have a big say in the new Palestinian cabinet
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has embarked on a campaign through the media to call for a new truce between Israel and the Palestinians.

In interviews with Israeli newspapers and television channels, Mr Arafat indicated he would have the backing of militant groups - but called on Israel to end its targeted killings of militant group members.

"I tell the Israelis: Enough blood, enough of the destruction and of the daily suffering. Our position has always been against killing Palestinians or Israelis," he told the Yediot Aharonot daily newspaper.

Mr Arafat spoke of resuming peace talks but did not give any concrete details.

The Israelis have dismissed the proposals as a ruse and insist the Palestinians must dismantle the militant groups before any progress can be made.

The Israeli Government has said it wants Mr Arafat "removed" - inviting widespread condemnation.

On Tuesday, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to lift the threat - which might include eliminating the Palestinian leader.

And President George W Bush kept up the pressure on Thursday describing Mr Arafat as "a failed leader".

"Hopefully, at some point in time... a Palestinian leadership will emerge which will then commit itself 100% to fighting off terror," Mr Bush said ahead of talks on the Middle East with Jordan's King Abdullah.

The time is past for Arafat to become involved in negotiations
Jimmy Carter
former US President

The Arab League is persisting with efforts to have the UN condemn Israel. It is asking the UN General Assembly to consider a similar resolution, even though its decisions are not binding.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli troops killed another member of the military wing of Hamas amid heavy fighting after a raid into a refugee camp in Gaza.

Conciliatory

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz gave Mr Arafat's comments similarly short shrift.

"Israel will not make any concessions until the Palestinian government proves its real intentions to seriously tackle the terrorist organisations," he told military radio.

I tell the Israelis: enough blood, enough of the destruction and of the daily suffering
Yasser Arafat
However, Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzsky, a member of the centrist Shinui party in the coalition government, was more conciliatory.

"We should examine [the proposition] in detail as it's in our interest," he told Israeli radio. "If not, we will be seen abroad as the ones who do not want to hear anything."

The BBC's Richard Miron says few expect the two sides to reach an agreement - and both seem to be concentrating their efforts on winning over local and international public opinion.

Early this week, Mr Arafat's security aide, Jibril Rajoub, made a similar proposal - dismissed as a "honey trap" by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Meanwhile, the incoming Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, has conceded that Mr Arafat's ruling Fatah party will have a considerable say in the make-up of the new cabinet.

This will add to Israeli suspicions that the new government will allow the Palestinian leader to command from behind the scenes, says our correspondent.




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