Sharon: Palestinians must reform, end terror
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday the Palestinian Authority must undergo extensive reform and said there must be a "complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement" before peace negotiations can proceed.
In a speech to the Israeli Knesset, Sharon didn't mention the term "Palestinian state" but said he envisioned the possibility of progress between both peoples in years to come.
"There cannot be any peace with a dictatorial, corrupt and tyrannical regime. This has to be a different authority," said Sharon, who has said in the past he is not against a Palestinian state being established.
Sharon said that when the Palestinian Authority undergoes security, economic, legal and social reform, and ends terrorism, Israel "will be able to enter a staged solution involving a long-term interim arrangement with the Palestinians."
Sharon lauded Operation Defensive Shield -- the recent Israeli military operation in Palestinian-held territory -- saying it was "absolutely vital as a stage in our fight to uproot and eradicate terrorism." But he said Israel has no intention of staying in territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Sharon made his remarks just two days after the central committee of his Likud party passed a non-binding resolution saying that Israel would never agree to a Palestinian state. (Full story)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who proposed the resolution -- denied Monday he has designs on replacing or undermining Sharon. (Full story)
Israeli forces kill 2 Palestinians in West Bank
Two Palestinian Authority intelligence officers were killed early Tuesday near Hebron as Israeli military action continued throughout the West Bank, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The IDF said that a force operating Monday night in Halhoul, a city near Hebron, was coming to arrest four wanted Palestinians.
The four escaped from a house, and the force opened fire. As a result, two Palestinians were killed. Authorities said they were Haled Abu Kna'am, the head of general intelligence in Halhoul, and Ahmed Abed el Azaiz Zomara, another member of the intelligence organization.
Another wanted man, Jamal Hansan Abu Radaba, a member of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's elite Force 17, was arrested. The fourth man escaped.
The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported the IDF apprehended 13 Palestinians in raids on villages near Jenin and Tulkarem. The paper also said soldiers arrested members of a Palestinian terror cell Monday north of Tulkarem en route to committing an attack in Israel.
Soldiers found two Kalashnikov rifles and five cartridges of ammunition and arrested eight people in a vehicle. They said at least two of the passengers had been planning to enter Israel to carry out a shooting attack.
European Union discusses fate of Palestinian militants
In Brussels, Belgium, European Union officials are deciding where 13 Palestinian militants will go but said their status remains to be determined. A diplomatic source said the 13 are expected to be moved on "discreetly" from Cyprus but not anytime before the weekend. (Full story)
The 13 militants left Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity on Friday, ending a five-week standoff with Israeli troops. Cyprus accepted the men on a temporary basis.
The source said the group is discussing not giving Schengen visa status to the militants so that they would remain confined to the country that takes them in.
A Schengen visa is issued under the terms of the Schengen Agreement. Schengen is a Luxembourg town, close to the French and German borders, where a number of European Union countries signed the pact to facilitate free movement of people within the EU area.
Such a visa issued by any country under the Schengen rules is valid for travel in 15 countries. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden issue Schengen visas.
-- Correspondent Chris Burns contributed to this report.
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