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Sharon: Israel to Oppose Any 'Appeasement' of Palestinians


Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accused the Palestinians of blocking all efforts to uphold a cease fire. Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Sharon also said his country would not accept any efforts by the United States and other western democracies to "appease" Arab nations at the expense of Israel. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from Jerusalem.

Mr. Sharon did not formally abandon the cease-fire the two sides agreed upon a week ago. However, he did say that every effort his government has taken to uphold that truce has been torpedoed by the Palestinians.

On Thursday a Palestinian gunman, dressed as an Israeli soldier, stepped off a bus in the northern Israeli town of Afula and opened fire on a crowd in a central bus station. He killed three Israelis and wounded more than a dozen others before he was gunned down by police. Clashes were also reported in the West bank town of Hebron.

Thursday's violence occurred as Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with top Palestinian negotiators, including Saeb Erekat. But, the meeting apparently resulted only in mutual accusations.

There have been daily clashes or attacks since Mr. Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat agreed on the truce last week.

Now, Mr. Sharon said Israel would rely only on itself and its security services to protect the country and its citizens.

The Palestinians accuse Israel of not upholding its part of the bargain by not withdrawing its tanks from Palestinian towns and villages and not easing the tight closure which has been in effect for most of the past year.

Mr. Sharon also had harsh words for the United States, which has pressured both Israel and the Palestinians to defuse the crisis. That effort is seen as vital to American attempts to bring Arab and Muslim nations into its worldwide coalition against terrorism.

Mr. Sharon warned the United States and other western democracies not to appease the Arabs at Israel's expense. He drew a parallel to 1938 when European nations gave Hitler free rein to invade Czechoslovakia in an effort to appease the Nazi leader. Mr. Sharon said Israel would not be a Czechoslovakia.