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Dahlan: Disarming terror groups would lead to ´civil war´ (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies 08/01/03 18:01 (GMT+3) Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/323383.html
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Palestinian Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan said Friday that disarming the main militant groups of Hamas and Islamic Jihad would lead to "civil war." Both groups, along with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat´s Fatah movement, have announced a temporary cease-fire.
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Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has expressed the same sentiment, also arguing that any attempt to dismantle armed groups, one of the demands in the first stage of the road map, would result in Palestinian civil war.
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The first stage of the peace plan calls on the Palestinians to "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere."
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But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in remarks published Friday that the U.S. would "not be satisfied" until the terrorist organizations were dismantled for good.
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"We must ensure that the Palestinians understand that we will not be satisfied until terror has been eliminated, not just momentarily, not only for a hudna, but permanently," Powell told the Ma´ariv newspaper.
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He acknowledged, however, the difficulties Abbas and Dahlan had and added: "The number of violent incidents has decreased significantly, as the prime minister [Sharon] himself has said more than once in his talks here. Let´s not discount this: Much more quiet, period."
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Arafat on Thursday called for an emergency meeting of the Quartet of international mediators who drafted the road map to discuss "the escalation in Israeli action." The foursome is made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
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Arafat was speaking at a meeting held in his Ramallah headquarters of the senior leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the PA, among them Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and several ministers.
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Arafat´s aide, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told the AFP news agency that "the senior Palestinians called for the Quartet to convene urgently to make a number of decisions in light of the escalation in Israeli activities."
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Ahead of the meeting, Abu Rudeineh said that its participants "would examine the Israeli escalation expressed through the lack of release of [Palestinian] prisoners, the continuation of the settlements, the refusal to withdraw from residential areas and the construction of the wall," a reference to the fence that Israel is building to separate itself from the West Bank.
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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that Israel´s biggest mistake in the past had been its restraint in responding to violations of previous agreements with the Palestinians.
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"Past experience teaches us that once a diplomatic agreement has been reached, the greatest mistake is to ignore seemingly minor violations in its implementation," he said at a graduation ceremony at the National Security College, near Tel Aviv.
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As examples, he cited Europe´s willingness to overlook Nazi Germany´s violations of agreements prior to World War II, as well as Israel´s own experiences.
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"For the past three years, we have paid a heavy price for Israel´s restraint over the daily violations of the Oslo accords," he said.
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"We paid for the fact that terrorist organizations were not disarmed, that illegal weapons were not collected, that the intolerable incitement against Israel in the educational system and the media never stopped."
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Sharon said that implementation of the first phase of the U.S.-backed road map to Middle East peace, including a "total cessation of violence," is beginning, but warned that Israel "will insist on the fulfillment of every obligation included in the road map. We will do this because only insisting that agreements be honored will bring the longed-for peace."
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He said the subsequent phases could not start until all the elements of previous stages are implemented, rejecting a Palestinian demand for a time line for carrying out the plan. (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 08/01/03)
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