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ARABS ISRAEL - Jun 22- Israel Revives Assassination Policy.

Israel resumes an assassination policy against Islamic Jihad militants, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tries to rally international support after coming away with no tangible results from a summit with Israel PM Ariel Sharon. Abbas called US State Sec Condoleezza Rice, Egypt Pres Hosni Mubarak and Jordan King Abdallah soon after the summit, as the Palestinians voiced exasperation over the Israeli premier's hard-line attitude. As a further sign of how far the Palestinian-Israel truce has deteriorated, an Israeli aircraft fired missiles at four Islamic Jihad men in the Gaza village of Beit Lahiya as they launched rockets into Israel. No one was hurt but a rocket was destroyed. The Israeli Army said the strike targeted the launchers, not people. A government official had earlier said Israel could stage airstrikes in Gaza, even at the risk of Palestinian civilian casualties, to ensure its Gaza pullout did not come under fire. Israel shelved "targeted killings" of militants in February as part of a new truce deal. Palestinian PM Ahmed Qorei too said Sharon made no attempt to negotiate but instead chose to dictate to his interlocutors. "Sharon dealt with us using a logic of force" rather than negotiation, Qorei said on a visit to the West Bank city of Nablus.

As both Palestinians and Israelis hardened their stances, resurgent violence has raised the specter of disruption to Israel's planned August withdrawal from Gaza and dimmed hopes for "road map" peace talks afterward. Word that the assassination policy had been dusted off came with Israeli confirmation of a failed missile strike while Sharon and Abbas were holding tense talks in Jerusalem. "An opportunity presented itself. Any means to neutralise the organization are relevant and possible", Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said. Islamic Jihad has resumed mortar bomb and rocket salvoes against Jewish settlements in Gaza in what it calls retaliation for continued Israeli raids to capture wanted fighters. "The attempt yesterday to kill an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza signaled the resumption of the targeted killing policy", an Israeli security source told Reuters. Khaled Al-Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad leader, warned of "terrible consequences" if Israel carried out assassinations. "The calm would thereby end. We will not be dictated to by Israel", he said in Gaza. Withdrawing from Gaza under fire would be political poison for Sharon, strengthening rightist foes who have said the pullout would be perceived by the Palestinians and Arab world as a sign of weakness after four years of bloodshed. "Israel will act in a very resolute manner to prevent terror attacks ... while the disengagement is being implemented", said Eival Giladi, head of the government team co-ordinating the plan.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7PALE
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:ARABS ISRAEL - Jun 21 - Summit Disappoints Palestinians.
Next Article:ARAB-US RELATIONS - Jun 19 - Gaza Settler Homes To Be Razed.

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