Sides bicker over Mideast chaos

Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister on Monday accused the Palestinians of failing to implement a truce agreement, while Palestinian leaders called for expanded foreign mediation. As the rhetoric ran hot, street clashes persisted: Two Palestinian teen-agers were killed and a third was blinded by gunfire.

The truce, in its fifth day Monday, has dampened the overall level of unrest but has not extinguished it. About 30 Palestinians were wounded in Monday’s sporadic clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, doctors said.

As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat prepared to head to Washington for separate meetings with President Clinton, they remained sharply at odds on how to stop the violence and revive suspended peace talks.

"We see a certain effort by Chairman Arafat to calm down the situation, but clearly the results show that there is no real reduction in the violence," Barak said.

In the evening, Barak’s government easily survived four no-confidence motions in parliament, parliament spokesman Giora Pordes said.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, complained Monday that U.S. mediation in Mideast peacemaking has been ineffective and demanded that the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and China be included in future talks. The Palestinians also raised the possibility of an international peacekeeping force.

"Since the United States has failed to persuade Israel to implement the agreements, there is a need for other parties to be involved in this process," Arafat aide Nabil Aburdeneh said.

Israel has adamantly rejected any international peacekeeping force. It wants its leading ally, the United States, to keep its role as the main mediator.

Arafat plans to meet Clinton in Washington on Thursday, and Barak is to hold talks with the president Sunday. The more immediate goal is to end the bloodletting instead of forging a peace accord.

In another development, a senior Palestinian official said the Palestinians have no intention of unilaterally declaring statehood at a Nov. 15 meeting of their Central Council.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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