Israel demands Palestinian crackdown after bombing
( 2003-08-21 08:35) (Agencies)
Israel's security cabinet warned the Palestinian government on Thursday that there could be no progress toward peace if it did not crack down on Islamic militant groups behind attacks on Israelis.
Sources close to the government said Israel appeared to be giving the Palestinians "a few more hours" to act against the militants before it carries out wide-ranging strikes against the militant groups.
"At the meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the government's goals were to achieve security for the citizens of Israel and the promotion of the diplomatic process. Action taken by the security forces against terror organizations is meant to allow progress in the process," Sharon's office said in the statement.
"If the Palestinian government does not take all the steps necessary in the war on terror, actual and meaningful steps, it will not be possible to move to the stage of diplomatic discussion," it said. It gave no other details.
In an apparent bid to stave off a tough Israeli military response to the suicide bombing, Palestinian leaders reiterated their support for a three-month truce and vowed to enforce the law after talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Palestinian security forces should enforce cabinet decisions, said a statement issued after the talks involving President Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement, Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his cabinet, and other political groups .
No militant organization attended the meeting.
"Everyone should adhere to one authority and the rule of law," said the statement. "The security forces will be in charge of implementing the resolutions of the Palestinian cabinet."
The suicide bombing threatened the three-month truce announced by leading Palestinian militant groups on June 29.
The shaky cease-fire is considered vital to the success of a U.S.-backed plan to end nearly three years of violence and establish a Palestinian state by 2005.
The United States and Israel have repeatedly demanded a Palestinian crackdown on the militants. Abbas has said a crackdown would risk civil war.
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