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White House: Limited Israeli Withdrawal Not Enough - 2002-04-09

The White House has renewed its call for a total Israeli military withdrawal from Palestinian cities in the West Bank. The Bush administration says the limited withdrawal from two towns, Qalqiliya and Tulkarm, is only the beginning.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president's expectations have not changed. He says Mr. Bush wants action now from both Israeli and Arab leaders.

Mr. Fleischer says all parties to the conflict have responsibilities. He says Israel must withdraw and do so at once. He says the Arabs must exercise statesmanship and condemn terrorism.

The White House spokesman makes clear the Bush administration is not satisfied with the limited Israeli withdrawal from two West Bank towns. He told reporters traveling with President Bush to the state of Connecticut that the United States is still looking for results. He said the president expects more.

Mr. Fleischer delivered that message twice Tuesday, first on the flight from Washington to Connecticut, and a few hours later after events in the West Bank took another bloody turn.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, prompting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to vow the military offensive would continue. Speaking on Israeli television, he said this is a battle for survival.

At the same time, Israel said it would not try to block a meeting between Yasser Arafat and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Palestinian leader has been confined to a few rooms in his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah since the offensive began on March 29.

Secretary Powell is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday. On Tuesday, he was in Cairo where he met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.