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Israeli Forces Begin the Breakdown of Settlements - 2003-06-09


The Israel military begins demolishing illegal settlement outposts on the West Bank a day after a new round of attacks against Israelis by Palestinian militants. Amy Katz has the latest developments.

Israeli forces tore down the Neve Erez settlement outpost near the Palestinian town of Ramallah Monday. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to demolish the illegal outposts at last week’s peace summit in Aqaba, Jordan.

The removal of such settlements is part of the first phase of the so-called “road map” peace plan, which also calls for an end to Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

But Sunday, at least five Israelis and five Palestinians were killed in two Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets, the worst day of violence since the Aqaba summit.

One Israeli was killed Sunday in a shooting attack in the divided West Bank city of Hebron. Israeli soldiers later killed two Palestinian gunmen.

The Hebron shooting came just hours after four Israeli soldiers were shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen at an Israeli army base on the Northern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian attackers who were dressed as Israeli soldiers were later killed during a long gun battle with Israeli forces. The three most well-know Palestinian militant groups: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, all claimed responsibility for the attack.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned the wave of violence, but says he has ruled out using force against militant groups, suggesting that could cause a civil war.

Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says if Palestinians do not rein in terror, they will not get anything from the Israelis, and there will be no progress toward peace.

U.S. President George W. Bush says he will not be deterred by the violence and is confident the peace process moving toward the creation of a Palestinian state will continue.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“I am optimistic because I was able to listen to the Prime Ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority talk about the need for peace and for a state.”

President Bush said average Palestinians need to realize their lives will improve with their new Prime Minister’s vision. He also said all Arabs need to understand that violence will lead to nothing, except misery.

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