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Sharon: No Peace Talks Until Palestinians Adopt Reforms - 2002-05-14


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will not resume peace talks with the Palestinians until there are sweeping reforms within the Palestinian Authority and an end to terrorist attacks.

In a speech to parliament, Prime Minister Sharon said Israel will only begin peace negotiations with the Palestinians if two conditions are met: there must be a "complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement" and the Palestinian Authority must also undergo "basic, structural reforms in all areas."

Mr. Sharon says there must be "complete transparency and organizational responsibility" within the Palestinian Authority.

The prime minister says there cannot be any peace with what he called "a dictatorial, corrupt, tyrannical regime."

Mr. Sharon says once those conditions are met, Israel will enter into what he called "a staged solution, a settlement involving a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians."

He says when Israel sees how the Palestinians are "building up their society" and "are determined to achieve peace," only then will the Jewish state be prepared to "sign a permanent peace agreement."

In the past the prime minister has proposed interim agreements, but the Palestinians say they want to move directly to negotiations on a final peace accord.

Mr. Sharon's remarks came two days after members of his Likud Party ignored his objections and passed a non-binding resolution rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state. The prime minister did not discuss the vote in his speech to parliament, but has called the move "trickery" designed to determine policy.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli army said it killed two Palestinian intelligence officers during a raid in the Palestinian-ruled town of Halhoul, near the West Bank city of Hebron. The army says the men were wanted for launching attacks against Israelis.

A military spokesman says the army also arrested 14 "wanted Palestinians" during sweeps of villages and towns in other parts of the West Bank.

Last week the Israeli military ended its large operation targeting militants in the West Bank, but has continued to launch raids in territory under Palestinian control.

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