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Israel says no cease fire { September 16 2003 }

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Palestinians Make Cease-Fire Offer -- Israel Says No
Palestinian U.N. Representative Storms Out Of Meeting

POSTED: 7:25 a.m. EDT September 16, 2003
UPDATED: 7:29 a.m. EDT September 16, 2003

JERUSALEM -- Arafat has a message for peace supporters in Israel: "We extend our hand to you."

Arafat addressed supporters at his battered headquarters in Ramallah -- but stopped short of echoing the cease-fire offer his national security adviser made earlier Tuesday.

Israel has already rejected the offer, prompting Arafat to say Prime Minister Ariel Sharon isn't interested in making peace.

Israeli officials are suspicious of any unilateral cease-fire, saying they've been used before as a ruse to allow militants to regroup. They're demanding the Palestinian Authority dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Arafat's national security adviser told Israel Radio the Palestinians will halt all acts of violence in return for an Israeli agreement to end its military operations, including lifting blockades on Palestinian towns and villages.

But an Israeli government official, who doesn't want to be identified by name, said several truces have not ended the fighting -- and it won't agree to any more cease-fires.

The Palestinians aren't saying how they would reach a new cease-fire deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- the two militant groups responsible for most attacks on Israelis in the past three years.

Israeli troops killed an Islamic militant fugitive in a West Bank raid Tuesday. Such raids have triggered revenge bombings in the past.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations stalked out of a Security Council debate Monday after wagging a finger at Israel.

Nasser al-Kidwa said any attempt by Israel to kill or expel Arafat would mean "an end of the Palestinian Authority, and would signal an end of the peace process."

Al-Kidwa also said it would be an "illegal and insane act." He stormed out when the Israeli representative began speaking.

The Palestinians are urging the Security Council to demand that Israel ensure Arafat's safety, and not deport him. Dozens of nations told the council that harming or deporting Arafat would violate international law, and be a serious political mistake.

After private talks, the Security Council issued a statement saying "the removal of chairman Arafat would be unhelpful and should not be implemented."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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