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Sharon: Likud Won't Dictate Policy On Palestinians

By Digital Journal Staff     May 14, 2002 in Technology
TEL AVIV (voa) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he, not his Likud party, will set Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.
Mr. Sharon's comments come one day after Likud party leaders defied Mr. Sharon and passed a resolution rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state. He told Likud legislators Monday that voters elected him to lead and he will not allow "party trickery" to dictate policy.
Sunday's vote was seen as a defeat for Mr. Sharon, who warned the party the resolution would damage Israel's relations abroad. It was an unquestioned victory for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said a Palestinian state would threaten Israel's existence.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are still discussing the final destinations of 13 Palestinian militants exiled from the West Bank. The militants were sent abroad as part of a deal to end Israel's siege at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
An E.U. spokeswoman says six countries have signaled a willingness to accept the Palestinians: Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Belgium.
The militants are currently in Cyprus, where they were flown Friday after Israel ended its five-week siege at the church. The Cyprus government has called for the militants to leave the country by Wednesday at the latest.
Elsewhere, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has completed a tour of the West Bank in his first venture outside Ramallah since Israel confined him to the town more than five months ago. Mr. Arafat's tour aboard a Jordanian helicopter included visits to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, as well as the towns of Jenin and Nablus.
The Palestinian leader was received enthusiastically in Jenin. However, he canceled a tour of the devastated Jenin refugee camp, where fierce fighting took place last month between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops.
An Arafat aide cited security concerns in canceling the camp visit. But Reuters news agency says anti-Arafat sentiment within the camp may have also played a role in the decision to cancel the visit.
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