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Sharon Remains Opposed to International Observers - 2001-08-05

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he remains opposed to the use of international observers to monitor a cease-fire with the Palestinians. And during an appearance on American television, Mr. Sharon also defended his policy of targeting Palestinian militants.

The Palestinians want an international observer force, and the United States says it is willing to go along if all parties agree. But Israel's Prime Minister flatly rejects the idea, saying "Israel will not accept any international intervention here. Israel will not accept any international observers."

Mr. Sharon told the "Fox News Sunday" program that Israel had a bad experience with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon. He said he is convinced an observer force made up of Israelis and Palestinians, with assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), would be sufficient to monitor any cease-fire.

The Israeli leader stressed he wants peace. But he said negotiations can not resume until all hostilities cease. He said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has refused to arrest suspected terrorists, forcing Israel to take action.

"It is not a cycle of terror here," said Mr. Sharon. "On the one hand we have murderers, killers, suicide bombers. On the other hand, we ourselves are taking defensive counter-terrorist measures. That is what we are doing."

Prime Minister Sharon rejected other countries' criticism of his policy of targeted attacks on militants. He said any nation would act to intercept terrorists and protect its citizens.

"I think that what we are doing is, of course, exercising our right of self defense," he explained. I am against killing, I do not want to kill anyone. Every casualty is a tragedy. But we have to avoid, I would say, massive tragedies."

The Israeli Prime Minister spoke shortly after a Palestinian gunman opened fire at soldiers standing near the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. He did not refer directly to the incident. But he said the Palestinian strategy is one of terror, added that Israel cannot abide by this.