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Sharon: No Talks Until Terror Stops

May 14, 2002

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JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told parliament Tuesday that he would not resume peace talks with the Palestinians until terror attacks end and the Palestinian leadership carries out reforms. He did not address the question of Palestinian statehood.

``There can be no peace with a corrupt terror regime that is rotten and dictatorial. There must be a different (Palestinian) Authority,″ said Sharon, a day after his Likud party decision-making body passed a resolution saying that a Palestinian state should not be established, now or in the future.

The call for reforms has been interpreted in part as aimed at diminishing the power of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who is badly discredited as a potential peacemaker among Israelis. Still, many Palestinian figures have also said reforms are badly needed.

Sharon left the issue of Palestinian statehood open in his speech, saying the sides should first enter interim arrangements and then see what can be worked out.

``The people of Israel yearn for peace,″ Sharon said in an address interrupted by heckling from Arab legislators. ``Israel will enter negotiations immediately after fulfillment of two conditions _ the total cessation of terror, incitement and violence; second, reforms in the Palestinian Authority.″

The prime minister said that when those conditions are met, the two sides could work out an agreement for a ``long-term interim period.″ That could eventually be followed by a final peace agreement.

Sharon has often made this proposal before, but the Palestinians reject it, saying they want a final deal that leads directly to a Palestinian state, not additional interim agreements.

Peace talks broke down in January of last year, shortly before Sharon was elected. Sharon’s predecessor offered a Palestinian state on almost all of the West Bank and Gaza.

Sharon opposed that offer as far too generous, but since becoming prime minister he has stated that he supports a Palestinian state in principle. He opposed the resolution by the Likud party.

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