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After Attack Israel Urges Abbas to Disarm Militants (REUTERS) By Rami Amichai TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 07/15/03 04:55 PM ET) Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=3095177
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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli to death Tuesday in an attack claimed by one of the militant groups Israel demands the Palestinian Authority disarm.
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Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the killing on Tel Aviv´s seaside promenade that has rattled a three-month cease- fire crucial to a U.S.-backed peace plan.
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Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr said he hoped the stabbing would not affect a truce called by militant groups on June 29 to halt attacks on Israel.
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"We condemn and reject such an act," Amr said.
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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on a trip to London called on Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle and disarm the militant groups to bolster the Middle East "road map" to peace. Al- Aqsa is linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat´s Fatah faction.
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"There should be (a) very active struggle -- and I would say, I would call it a war -- by the Palestinian new government against the terrorist organizations," Sharon said in an address to leaders of the Jewish community in Britain.
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Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel understood Abbas would crack down by the end of the week.
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There was no immediate Palestinian comment on Sharon´s speech. Abbas has avoided confrontation with the militants, fearing it could trigger a civil war.
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The cease-fire proclaimed by main Palestinian factions has raised cautious optimism that the U.S.-led road map would end 33 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which has cost the lives of at least 2,131 Palestinians and 762 Israelis since a Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.
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However some militant cells have sworn to ignore the cease-fire and sporadic violence has continued.
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Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said it backed the Palestinian who first attacked a security guard at a restaurant and then killed 24-year-old Amir Simchon. Then it warned more attacks would follow.
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"There will be more martyrdom operations until the occupation leaves our land," the group said on its Web site, although leaders of several al-Aqsa cells denied involvement in the Tel Aviv attack.
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The road map, drawn up by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union, sets out reciprocal steps to halt violence and establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2005.
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Italy, which has just taken over the rotating European Union presidency, invited the Israeli and Palestinian foreign ministers to participate in its first meeting on foreign policy in Brussels Monday.
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Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he extended the invitations to Israel´s Shalom and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath to show Italy´s commitment to advancing the Middle East "road map" to peace while at the EU helm.
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In a sign of Israeli opposition to the road map, 26 members of Israel´s parliament, the Knesset, approved a declaration on Tuesday in support of Jewish settlements built on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East War.
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The motion is not binding on the government, but could hamper Sharon´s efforts to implement the "road map," which calls on Israel to freeze all settlement construction. (© Reuters 2003 07/15/03)
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