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US: Israel Should End West Bank Incursion - 2001-10-23

The United States is calling on Israel to end its military incursion into the occupied West Bank. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to deliver that message when he meets with visiting foreign minister Shimon Peres at the State Department later Tuesday.

At the State Department Monday, spokesman Phillip Reeker called on Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat to arrest those responsible for last week's assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister, as Israel is demanding. But he also denounced the Israeli army's incursion into the West Bank, the most extensive since the signing of the Oslo peace accords, eight years ago.

"Israeli defense forces should be withdrawn immediately from all Palestinian-controlled areas and no further such incursions should be made," he said. "We deeply regret and deplore Israeli defense force actions that have killed numerous Palestinian civilians."

Despite Israeli assurances that its troops will withdraw, visiting Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told reporters, Mr. Arafat must take action against suspected terrorists first. "He has to arrest 10 or 15 trouble makers which are really initiating most of the terror," said Mr. Peres.