- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2000

JERUSALEM Members of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's own Fatah group brushed aside a truce he reached with Israel yesterday and called for the confrontation to continue until the Jewish state ceded all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Clashes with Israeli troops continued well after President Clinton announced a cease-fire agreement at the end of a two-day summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheik, including gunbattles on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon said he would abandon plans to join Prime Minister Ehud Barak's coalition because of a reference in Mr. Clinton's summary statement to the possible resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

"The popular Palestinian response will be to continue this uprising because to this day the causes for this uprising continue to exist on the ground," said Hussein Sheikh, leader of the armed Tanzim group in the West Bank, which is affiliated with Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction.

"I think it has no way of being implemented on the ground," he said.

One of Mr. Arafat's top lieutenants, Marwan Barghouthi, called the summit a failure and vowed the Intifada, or uprising, would continue, while the leader of the Islamic militant Hamas group said the agreement was not binding because it was forced on the Palestinians by Israel and the United States.

Two more Palestinians were killed yesterday a policeman shot in clashes with Israeli troops at the northern tip of the Gaza Strip and an olive-picker shot by Jewish settlers near the West Bank town of Nablus, witnesses said. A third died of wounds sustained two weeks ago.

An Israeli border policeman was critically wounded and two were hurt when Palestinians opened fire on the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo, built on Arab land annexed by Israel in 1967.

Mr. Barak, who said he got most of what he wanted from the summit, faced political trouble at home with a decision by Mr. Sharon to halt talks for an "emergency unity government."

"Parliament member Sharon takes a severe view of Barak's agreement to continue the Camp David process from the point where it was left off as if nothing happened," said a statement issued by Mr. Sharon's spokeswoman.

"Therefore, he sees no point in continuing negotiations on the formation of an emergency government."

His remarks might be a boon for the foundering peace process, which some Palestinians have said would break down completely if Mr. Sharon and his right-wing Likud coalition party linked up with Mr. Barak.

But they also portend political trouble for Mr. Barak, who must buttress his government by the end of the month or face a move for early elections.

Successive drafts of President Clinton's statement show how Mr. Barak tried to keep references to a resumption of the talks as vague as possible. An early version has Mr. Clinton inviting "the negotiators to Washington for consultations within the next two weeks."

But in a later draft that sentence is crossed out in favor of a watered-down version:

"Towards this end, the leaders have agreed that the United States would consult with parties within the next two weeks about how to move forward."

Israeli officials touted the new wording as an achievement.

"We managed to get everything we wanted from this summit, everything we set out to achieve," said acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami.

Mr. Barak held several rounds of talks with Mr. Sharon before Monday's summit on the terms under which Likud the biggest opposition party in the Knesset, Israel's parliament would join his coalition.

Mr. Sharon's asking price was for Mr. Barak to withdraw the peace offer he made to Palestinians at Camp David last July, which includes a provision for the establishment of a Palestinian state in more than 90 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While fighting raged in the West Bank and Gaza over the past 20 days, Mr. Barak could toy with the idea of meeting Mr. Sharon's price, since Israelis and Palestinians were not moving closer to an agreement.

The Israeli leader said after yesterday's summit that he still intended to pursue a national-unity government with Mr. Sharon's bloc. But the truce, however tenuous, appeared to have pushed the idea off the agenda.

"I think the sentence in Clinton's statement about the two weeks makes it very difficult for Barak today to create the type of government that would send a signal that he's not serious about the renewal of the peace process," Israeli political analyst Shai Feldman said.

"For the Arab world, a government with Sharon is a decisive sign that we are not interested in the peace process," said Mr. Feldman, who heads the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies.

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