- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2001

Senior Israeli adviser Zalman Shoval said yesterday that Israel hoped that its cease-fire with the Palestinians would be a "turning point" after months of violence, but held little confidence that Yasser Arafat was a true peace partner.

Mr. Shoval spoke as the truce began to take effect yesterday. Israel withdrew tanks and troops and opened roads. But the effort was marred by the fatal shooting of an Israeli security official.

"It could be a turning point, but I am not too terribly optimistic," Mr. Shoval, a former ambassador to Washington, told reporters and editors at a luncheon interview at The Washington Times.

He also said that a halt in the construction of new settlements while violence calms down is only "temporary."

"The settlements won´t disappear — 240,000 Israelis live in the territories. A large part of the settlements will remain forever," he said.

Previously, Israeli negotiators have spoken of retaining only the settlements along the old Green Line, the 1948 border of Israel, where most settlers live.

Mr. Shoval said Israel also intends to keep settlements and control over the Jordan Valley to protect against an attack from "the east," where Syria, Iraq and Iran are seen as a threat.

Mr. Shoval said that Mr. Arafat, the Palestinian leader, agreed to the cease-fire negotiated by CIA Director George J. Tenet this week only because of solid U.S. and European pressure convincing him he would not win anything through violence.

"If there is a turning point it is because Arafat learned a tough lesson — that he did not get what he wanted and the Europeans did not undermine it," he said.

As he spoke, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced he was suspending the pullback of tanks and troops from areas where "terrorist attacks" took place.

"The [army] will not start its redeployment in those places that there is no cease-fire and therefore there will not be movement of forces in the areas of Ramallah, Nablus and Rafah," said Mr. Sharon, as quoted by an Israeli Embassy spokesman.

A Palestinian shot and killed an Israeli intelligence officer in the West Bank and was killed by return fire yesterday, the first day the truce was to take effect.

Lt. Col. Yehuda Edri was killed by Hassan Abu Shaireh of Bethlehem in revenge for the death of a Palestinian ally of Mr. Arafat in an earlier helicopter attack.

Despite that and other attacks, Israeli tanks and troops withdrew from forward positions in the Gaza Strip and at the Netzarim Junction, where much fighting has taken place since the Sept. 28 start of the Palestinian uprising.

Israel also dismantled roadblocks and opened the border crossing to Egypt at Rafah.

Mr. Shoval, who is currently an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Mr. Sharon´s government and head of his Likud Party´s Foreign Relations Department, said the cease-fire came about only because of Israel´s refusal to negotiate while violence continued.

He said that groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who have said they would continue the fight against Israel, can be contained if Mr. Arafat intends to carry out the agreement.

"According to the head of Israeli army intelligence, Arafat is in complete control" of the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, Mr. Shoval said.

Some groups, such as the militant Tanzim wing of Mr. Arafat´s Fatah organization, are directly under his control and the others can be prevented from "doing anything," Mr. Shoval said.

The present agreement marks the first serious truce in nine months of fighting that has killed more than 100 Israelis and more than 400 Palestinians.

"The Palestinians had only one option — accept Tenet´s proposal with some reservations," Mr. Shoval said.

After a suicide bomber killed 20 young Israelis at a disco June 2, "they were losing any international support Arafat had," he said.

The agreement negotiated by Mr. Tenet won Palestinian and Israeli endorsement of an immediate cease-fire, the first step called for in a report by a committee that was led by former Sen. George Mitchell.

The report calls for a complete end to violence, six weeks of cooling-off and confidence-building measures such as the "temporary" freeze on settlements.

The Palestinians are expected to round up mortars and shut down mortar factories, rearrest terrorists who were freed from Palestinian jails at the beginning of the uprising and stop inciting people to attack Israelis.

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