Archive for Sunday, June 24, 2001

Diplomats use relative calm to advance peace efforts

June 24, 2001

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— Israeli troops Saturday shot and killed a Palestinian trying to sneak over a fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, as a senior American envoy pursued intense international efforts to keep the relative calm and iron out the details of a frail cease-fire.

In Gaza, a leading Islamic militant was detained by Palestinian police, witnesses said, but released hours later. The arrest of activists involved in anti-Israeli attacks is a key Israeli condition for the continuation of the cease-fire.

Also bolstering the truce was the fact that by late Saturday, Israel had still not retaliated for a suicide bombing a day earlier by militants that killed two Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Israel usually strikes back quickly in the wake of such incidents.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said Saturday after a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that the United States expected both sides to fulfill their commitments to the cease-fire.

In a hint of the seriousness of efforts to keep the truce going, Arafat offered an unusually explicit assertion that Jewish settlers should not be targeted by Palestinians.

"I announced a total cease-fire, and the Palestinian leadership accepted it, and it includes all the Israelis," Arafat said.

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