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US Envoy Calls on Israel to Repay Palestinian Quiet -- With Quiet (CNS-CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Julie Stahl JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/27/05)Source: http://www.cnsnews.com//ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=\ForeignBureaus\archive\200501\FOR20050127d.html CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - U.S. envoy William Burns called on Israel on Thursday to repay quiet for quiet on the Palestinian side just hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called the Palestinian Authority ceasefire a "ticking bomb" that was ready to explode in Israel´s face.

But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed satisfaction with steps taken by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) toward reining in radical groups.

"There is no doubt that Abu Mazen has begun to work," Sharon said in an interview with the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot published on Thursday.

"I am very pleased with what I hear about what is going on the Palestinian side, and I very much want to work with him to make progress," Sharon was quoted as saying.

Sharon´s office announced on Wednesday that Israel had resumed diplomatic contacts with the PA that were suspended two weeks ago following a terrorist attack at the Karni crossing into the Gaza Strip, in which six Israelis were killed.

Abbas has deployed thousands of PA policemen in the northern Gaza Strip to prevent the firing of Kassam rockets and mortar shells at Israeli communities inside Israel and in Gaza. A further deployment of PA policemen in the southern and central Gaza Strip is expected this week.

He also has said that he has convinced radical groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to participate in a ceasefire agreement in return for an Israeli halt to military operations, including arrests of wanted Palestinians and targeted killings.

On Thursday, Abbas said he was waiting for an Israeli response to his offer "as soon as possible" and called for progress on the diplomatic front.

The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades threatened to disregard any ceasefire after a Hamas operative was killed in an Israeli arrest raid in the West Bank on Wednesday.

It is not clear if Israel would agree to enter into a formal ceasefire with the Palestinians, but Sharon said he wanted to "promote the chances of reaching an arrangement with the Palestinians."

Without elaborating, Sharon said he said he would "accommodate" Abbas but at the same time "keep my eyes open and to examine the situation on their side."

PA leaders met with U.S. envoy William Burns on Thursday in Ramallah and called on Israel to answer quiet on the Palestinian side with quiet on the Israeli side.

Burns, who is here to "seize the moment of opportunity," an American diplomat said, is due to meet with Israeli leaders later on Thursday.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was not enthusiastic regarding the idea of a ceasefire.

"A ceasefire as such is not a goal," said Shalom in a radio interview on Thursday. "Whoever thinks a halt is the right thing is mistaken. A ceasefire is a ticking bomb which will blow up in our faces."

A year and a half ago, Israel charged that a similar attempt at a ceasefire would be used by Palestinian groups to rearm. The "ceasefire" disintegrated in less than two months into a new round of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks.

"You cannot take a ceasefire as a long-range goal while they are still preserving their infrastructure; the extremist organizations can rebuild them and bring about a situation in which, at a time they choose, they can carry out one terrorist attack or a series of terror attacks, which will bring down this whole process and send it to hell," Shalom said.

Shalom met with Condoleezza Rice -- now U.S. secretary of state -- on Wednesday in Washington.

Rice is due to visit the Middle East in the next few weeks, Israeli media reported on Thursday. The U.S. Embassy could not confirm the reports. (copyright 1998-2005 Cybercast News Service. 01/27/05)

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