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Powell: Israel Must Stop Incursions
By VOA News
Secretary of State Colin Powell concluded his six day mission in
Israel and the Palestinian territories without achieving a
ceasefire. He told reporters in Jerusalem that "ceasefire" is not
a relevant term while Israel continues its military incursion into
Palestinian areas. He said Israel must end the incursions, and that
Palestinian leaders must act against terrorism.
The secretary said senior U.S. officials, including CIA Director
George Tenet, will be in the region to try to end the
Israeli-Palestinian violence. Powell said he intends to return to
the area to advance things, though he gave no date.
Powell spoke Wednesday, after a second meeting with Palestinian
leader Yasir Arafat. He said he made it clear to Arafat that he
must decide, as the rest of the world has decided, that terrorism
must end. The secretary of state also said he takes Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon at his word that Israeli troops will withdraw from
recently occupied West Bank Palestinian areas within "a week or
Powell and Arafat met for two hours in the West Bank city of
Ramallah. Speaking to reporters afterwards, an outraged Arafat
appealed to the United States and the international community to
break Israel's siege of his headquarters. He asked, "Is it
acceptable that I cannot go outside from this door?" Chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Israeli prime minister
had "torpedoed" Powell's mission.
President Bush said he believes Secretary of State Colin Powell has
made progress toward realizing peace in the Middle East.Speaking at
the Virginia Military Institute Wednesday, Bush said the United
States is confronting centuries-old hatred and disputes that have
lingered for decades. But he said he will continue to work toward
what he called a "vision of peace."
Hassan Nafae is the head of the political science department at
Cairo University. He said Powell's only accomplishment was to
further alienate an already angry Arab world from the United
States. "I think you will not find any single citizen in the whole
Arab and Muslim world that has any respect now for the American
government. And we all have the impression that Israel will lead
the United States to a tremendous and very regrettable
confrontation between the United States and the Arab world."
Israeli Tanks Pull Back But Do Not Leave Jenin
By VOA News
Witnesses report that Israeli tanks have left the center of Jenin
but are still occupying the fringes of the West Bank Palestinian
town. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that Israeli forces
would be leaving Jenin and Nablus within a week. Israeli troops
encountered their fiercest resistance in the two towns as they
began entering Palestinian areas earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Bethlehem said he would ask Pope John Paul
to come to the West Bank city to help end the standoff between
Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops at the Church of the
Nativity. About 200 armed Palestinians along with a number of
civilians and clerics have been holed up in the church for 15 days.
A teenage Palestinian boy who escaped from the church Monday said
people inside are cold at night and do not have much food. But he
said no one is talking about surrendering to the Israeli forces
surrounding the Christian holy site.
Israeli troops and tanks also swept into two West Bank villages
Wednesday. One Palestinian was killed during the operations into
Bal'a, east of Tulkarm, and in Silat al-Harthiyah, northwest of
Jenin. The Israeli army said the operations are aimed at seizing
France Grapples With Increased Anti-Semitic Attacks
By Roger Wilkison (VOA-Brussels)
A series of attacks on Jewish schools, synagogues and cemeteries in
France is being blamed by French officials on the worsening crisis
in the Middle East. Police have stepped-up patrols at potential
targets, and French leaders have called for an immediate halt to
the attacks. But anti-Jewish incidents show no signs of abating.
French police have said they are tallying up to a dozen anti-Jewish
incidents daily, since Israel began its military offensive in
Palestinian territories at the end of March in response to a series
of deadly suicide bombings against Israelis. The incidents range
from the scrawling of anti-Jewish graffiti to physical attacks on
Jews and their places of worship, study or recreation.
Police said no organized element seems to be behind the attacks,
but they suspect that disaffected young men from North African
immigrant families are responsible for most of them. One police
officer said these youths believe they are defending the
Palestinian cause, as violence escalates in the Middle East, by
targeting symbols of Judaism.
Police have taken about 40 people into custody since the wave of
anti-Jewish violence began, but most have been released. Most of
those who remain in detention have been identified as being of
North African origin. Many of them have police records for crimes,
including vandalism, theft or drug-peddling. Some are minors.
The government has boosted police protection in Jewish
neighborhoods and at likely Jewish targets. But Roger Cukierman,
who leads an umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, said
more needs to be done. "Things can only be stopped, if the police
are arresting aggressors and making strong examples with a lot of
publicity," he said.
Cukierman said French government denunciations of Israeli tactics
in the West Bank, along with media coverage of the Middle East
conflict, have inflamed the situation in France.
The Palestinian representative in Paris and some Muslim religious
leaders have urged Arabs in France not to take out their hatred for
Israeli actions on the Jews of France. But some French Jews have
said those responsible for the attacks have neither the inclination
nor the interest in making such a distinction.
A French human rights group, called the League Against Racism, said
many Jews are beginning to develop a fortress mentality, in the
face of the authorities' inability to stop the attacks. The group
said some Jews are unwilling to even talk about the attacks, while
others want to create their own security militia.
With nearly 700,000 Jews and up to 5 million Muslims, France has
the biggest such communities in Europe. French politicians,
religious leaders and commentators are worried that the anti-Jewish
attacks - and the Arab-Israeli crisis - could cause a fundamental
rupture between two groups that have so far coexisted peacefully in
France, and lead to a foreign conflict being played out on French
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