Tags: Welcomes | Zinni's | Return | Region

PA Welcomes Zinni's Return to Region

Wednesday, 02 January 2002 12:00 AM

Zinni, recalled to Washington last week by the Bush administration, was to return to the Middle East on Thursday.

"We were told by the U.S. State Department officials that the United States understands the Palestinian efforts to reinforce the cease-fire deal," said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has turned down a plan, endorsed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, for Israeli President Moshe Katzav to appear before the Palestinian legislature and propose a 1-year "hudna," a Muslim concept of a truce, including a cease-fire.

Erekat said Sharon's policy is becoming clear in that he does not want peace and does not want to implement the cease-fire deals.

Katsav issued a statement saying he believe the proposed hudna is "worthy of an examination, a debate and serious consideration."

A year-long cease-fire and a halt to incitement to violence "is worthy of positive consideration," the Israeli president said.

Israeli government spokesman Arieh Mekel told United Press International that having Katzav appear before the Palestinian legislature "could play into Arafat's hands." Arafat is searching for international legitimacy, and Sharon is of the opinion that the Palestinian leader must first take additional steps against terrorism.

Israeli diplomatic sources, who refused to be named, told UPI that Sharon feels he is in a position of strength since pressure on Arafat is leading to a reduction in violence.

Meanwhile, an Israeli army special undercover unit on Tuesday detained an officer of the Palestinian Force 17, the elite brigade of Arafat's guards, Palestinian security sources said. Israeli radio later said the officer, Reyad Ayyad, was linked to mortar fire near the Jewish settlement of Nitzarim near Gaza.

Palestinian witnesses said that an Israeli army patrol arrested four Hamas activists, including Nasser Zakarne, a senior Hamas member, in the town of Kabatiya, near the West Bank city of Jenin.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Zinni, recalled to Washington last week by the Bush administration, was to return to the Middle East on Thursday. We were told by the U.S. State Department officials that the United States understands the Palestinian efforts to reinforce the cease-fire deal, said...
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Wednesday, 02 January 2002 12:00 AM
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