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US Envoy Urges End to Israeli-Palestinian Fighting - 2001-11-28

U.S. Mideast Envoy Anthony Zinni says it is a time for Israel and the Palestinians to end their months of fighting. He and Undersecretary of State William Burns met with Palestinian officials in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Mr. Zinni says that the Israeli-Palestinian violence needs to be brought to a halt and the parties have to get back to peace negotiations.

The U.S. envoy says both sides have suffered far too much and it is, "time for a change."

Mr. Zinni, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general was speaking in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where he and Undersecretary of State Burns met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Zinni says his mission is to get the parties in the conflict to lay down their arms and observe a cease-fire agreement negotiated earlier this year by Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet.

The cease-fire, which has failed to hold, is meant to lay the groundwork for implementing the recommendations of the international inquiry into the violence. Former senator George Mitchell led the inquiry.

Mr. Arafat said he is "exerting 100-percent effort" to reach a comprehensive and lasting peace. The Palestinian leader called for Mr. Zinni to draw up a "mechanism and timeline" to implement the Tenet and Mitchell plans.

One of the recommendations of the Mitchell plan is for a freeze on the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Mr. Zinni and Mr. Burns told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the expansion of settlements in the territories must cease.

Mr. Zinni also flew with Mr. Sharon in a helicopter over Israel and the West Bank to see first-hand the country's security problems.

The Palestinians took the two U.S. officials on a car tour of Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank to illustrate the impact of Israeli military raids, blockades, and Jewish settlements on Palestinian communities.