Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has seen his conditions for a restart of the peace talks approved by the Knesset. However, Yasser Arafat is ruled out as an interlocutor.
Ariel Sharon has declared that violence must cease before there is any return to the negotiating table, a demand that was supported by the Knesset (48 votes to 15, with 57 members absent) but condemned by the Palestinians as being a brake on the peace process.
Sharon criticised Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Authority in the strongest terms: “There must be another Palestine Authority. There will be no peace with a dictatorial, corrupt and tyrannical regime”.
Ariel Sharon confirmed that he had told George Bush on his recent trip to the USA that Israel would start peace talks based on two conditions: that the terrorist attacks cease immediately and that the Palestine Authority proceed with serious reforms at many levels.
Sharon’s declarations come days after his party, the Likud, voted against the constitution of any Palestinian State and amid his own declarations that Israel’s northern frontier deserves attention, mentioning “the growing influence of Iran and Syria over Hezbollah. We cannot cross our arms if the provocations continue and if the terrorist acts proceed against our citizens on the northern frontier”.
This attitude of arrogance, refusing to recognise a democratically elected leader, one who is accepted by the international community, including the Russian Federation, the USA and the EU, deserved a hail of criticism from the Palestine Authority.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat declared that “Sharon’s speech sabotages all international efforts for peace and all the agreements that have been signed”. He accuses Arafat’s government of being irresponsible: “With this irresponsible policy, this government leads the region into a cycle of violence, chaos, blood spilling and instability”.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru