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Sharon Takes Peace Plan to Washington

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is visiting the United States with a new peace plan that proposes excluding the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. But he may a have hard time convincing President Bush during their meeting Tuesday.

Mr. Sharon is proposing a new peace process that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State - without Mr. Arafat as its President.

Before leaving for the United States, the prime minister told reporters he wants to discuss with Mr. Bush his plan for peace with the Palestinians.

He insists that Mr. Arafat should not be allowed to take part in negotiations. He says he will present a detailed report linking the Palestinian leader to terror attacks.

Under Mr. Sharon's plan, Israeli military operations inside Palestinian areas would stop, provided there are no more attacks.

During an interim period, the Palestinian Authority would be allowed to rebuild its infrastructure and institutions which were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel's campaign to eradicate Palestinian terror positions in Gaza and the West Bank.

Mr. Sharon's hope is that the United States and the European Union will accept that Mr. Arafat should be replaced.

The Sharon plan, at the end of the interim period, would have negotiations begin on the establishment of a Palestinian State, but without Mr. Arafat.

However, reports in American newspapers suggest that Mr. Bush is far from convinced that there is another Palestinian leader who could replace Mr. Arafat.

Meanwhile, violence continued Sunday in the West Bank. A Palestinian woman and her two children were killed when Israeli soldiers mistakenly opened fire on them after an explosive device detonated near a tank in the town of Jenin.

And in a separate incident, Israeli authorities are investigating how a Palestinian held on suspicion of attempted murder of an Israeli naval officer was able to escape while being transported in chains earlier in the day.