- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

President Bush yesterday urged Israel to withdraw its troops from Palestinian-controlled areas, but Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said his forces would remain in the areas until Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat orders terrorists arrested.
"I did express our concern about troops in Palestinian territory, and I would hope the Israelis would move their troops as quickly as possibly," Mr. Bush told reporters after meeting with Mr. Peres. "He listened very carefully."
The White House request, made during a meeting between Mr. Peres and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, followed a State Department statement Monday calling for Israel to withdraw "immediately" from areas on the West Bank. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who also met with Mr. Peres yesterday, "made quite clear we expect the Israelis to withdraw from the Palestinian areas," said department spokesman Richard Boucher.
But Mr. Peres said Israel has no intention of pulling out immediately, although he added "we would like to."
"The minute the Palestinians will take over in their own hands the introduction of law and tranquillity and put in jail the main troublemakers, we should be more than happy to [redeploy] our army to their previous positions," Mr. Peres said.
"We don't intend to remain. We are not trying to occupy or control the Palestinians. The secretary knows we would like to withdraw immediately," but forces will remain at least until the assassins of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi are arrested and extradited to Israel for prosecution, he said.
Mr. Peres said Mr. Arafat knows the murderers.
"The assassination took place on Israeli soil in Jerusalem. We know who are the four who participated in the assassination. The Palestinians know, and they have to put an end on that."
Mr. Bush agreed. "It is very important that he arrest those who did this act and continue to arrest those who would disrupt and harm Israeli citizens," he said yesterday. "He must show the resolve necessary to bring peace to the region."
Bush spokesman Sean Mc-Cormick said the president told Mr. Peres that Mr. Arafat "must make 100 percent efforts to end the violence, arrest terrorists and work against terrorist groups."
Mr. Peres said of the president: "He would like very much the flames to go down, and I told him we shall do whatever we can to reduce them."
The U.S. request came as a United Nations envoy said the Middle East is out of control and also called on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-ruled areas.
"There has been too much bloodshed," said Terje Roed-Larsen, U.N. special envoy for the Middle East peace process.
Separately, Mali and Qatar requested a meeting of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council "to take the necessary action to ensure the full and immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from Palestinian areas it has reoccupied."
Israeli armed forces have started the largest ground offensive since 1993, deploying tanks and troops in and around six West Bank cities after last Wednesday's assassination by radical Palestinian gunmen of Mr. Zeevi. At least 31 Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed since gunmen from the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine killed the tourism minister.
Yesterday, Israeli tanks killed two more Palestinians in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem, Palestinian doctors said. Separately, a Palestinian policeman wounded in clashes in the West Bank on Saturday died of his wounds.
That brought to 911 the death toll since the September 2000 outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, including 711 Palestinians and 178 Israelis.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide