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Tail Wags Rabid Dog

Sharon threatens to call election if US attempts to impose a settlement. Israeli leader continues to make impossible demands for resumption of "peace process," beytraying his real agenda of continued Israeli military rule or expulsion of Palestinians.
By Ross Dunn

Sydney Morning Herald
June 13 2002

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has warned President George Bush that if Washington tries to impose a peace deal he call early elections, thereby freezing the peace process.

The threat emerged as Mr Bush and officials were poised to consider a strategy for the Middle East, including the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Mr Sharon told Mr Bush at the White House this week that if
countries tried to impose such a state he would call elections which would paralyse diplomatic activity for months.

Mr Sharon said he envisioned a Palestinian state only after a long negotiating process and an end to all attacks against Israelis.

However, the prospect of a halt to Palestinian attacks appeared faint, with the death of a 15-year-old Israeli girl and the wounding of eight other people in a suicide bombing in a small restaurant in in a small restaurant in
Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops guarding the Jewish settlement of Netzarim on Tuesday night shot dead an eight-year-old boy in a nearby village, Palestinian security sources said. The Israeli Army said it responded to heavy gunfire from the area. The army said troops also opened fire on a group of armed Palestinians approaching
Netzarim, killing four.

Also in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian was killed in a blast,
apparently while preparing explosives.

After meeting Mr Sharon on Monday, Mr Bush said the conditions were not right for a Middle East peace conference because no-one had confidence in the Palestinian government.

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said: "Bush's
statements are embarrassing and do not encourage or bring hope for moving forward the peace process in the region. George Bush has taken the shortest possible short cut to prevent a clash with the Israeli Prime Minister.

However, there was confusion over the US position with the
publication yesterday of an interview in which the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said Washington would continue to work with the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, and still planned a Middle
East peace conference in the northern summer.

The London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat quoted Mr Powell as saying: "The Palestinian people ... elected him, and he is the president of the government of the Palestinian Authority. The United States acknowledges this. I have said
this repeatedly, and the President realises this."

Mr Bush, while opposing a firm timetable for a negotiated settlement of the conflict, has indicated his willingness to set down the principles for restarting and guiding peace talks.

Mr Bush reportedly also told Mr Sharon that he remained committed to replacing the Iraqi Government, although no decision had been made as to how.



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