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Sharon: Talks could follow cease-fire

Sharon says the violence must stop before talks can take place
Sharon says the violence must stop before talks can take place  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has urged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to call a cease-fire in the Mideast -- and said talks could take place if there is a 48-hour break in violence.

At a special session of the Israeli Parliament on Sunday, Sharon said he would order a halt to Israeli-initiated actions against Palestinian areas if Arafat called the cease-fire.

But Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erakat said Sharon should agree to hold a meeting immediately.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel said Sharon had said if a cease-fire held for 48 hours, he would allow Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to meet Arafat.

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If the break in violence lasted for seven days, it could lead the way to the implementation of the Mitchell report, Kessel said.

Early Sunday Israeli tanks mounted an incursion into the Palestinian-controlled town of Ramallah.

Reuters quoted the Israeli army as saying the incursion followed a Palestinian shooting attack late Saturday which it said killed an Israeli motorist on a road in northern Jerusalem.

There were reports of injuries but no confirmed details from the incursion in Ramallah. The Israeli army later pulled out of the West Bank town.

Reuters quoted the army as saying: "During the operation there were exchanges of fire between soldiers and Palestinians.

"Following the exchange of fire troops struck Palestinian positions with ground forces and helicopter gunships, as well as carrying out arrests."

On Saturday, Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles on Palestinian security targets in Gaza, according to Palestinian security sources and the Israeli army.

The operation that hit targets around Gaza City and the southern Gaza town of Raffah injured 10 people, one critically, Palestinian sources said.

Israel Defense Forces said the attacks were in response to the wounding of two border policemen in a grenade attack at Erez crossing Friday night and a number of mortar bombardments.

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