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Israel Extends Ultimatum Deadline

by RON KAMPEAS Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday backed away from a deadline for the Palestinians to stop violence that continued to rage in Israel and the West Bank and agreed to attend a U.S.-hosted summit if one was called, his spokesman said.

Barak had called an emergency late-night meeting of his Cabinet even as the initial Monday night time limit wound on his ultimatum to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- stop the violence or face the end of the peace process and a tougher Israeli military response.

Even as the Cabinet met, violence raged through Israel and the West Bank. A gun battle erupted between Palestinian paramilitaries and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Hebron, and in towns across Israel, Jews and Arabs attacked each other in perhaps the worst civil strife in years.

Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, President Clinton spoke to Barak and Arafat by phone trying to cobble together a summit.

Israeli government spokesman Nachman Shai emerged from the Cabinet session and announced the decision to extend the deadline, without setting a new one.

''We will act to restore calm to the extent that it depends on us, while also giving Yasser Arafat a certain additional time to do what he needs to do. There is intense international diplomatic activity which we cannot reject or ignore,'' he told The Associated Press.

Shai said Israel was ready to go to a summit if Washington convened one. ''If the U.S. president invites, it isn't pleasant to say no.''

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian leader to the Israeli decision. Arafat has said he would only consider a resumption of peace talks once Israel agrees to the formation of an international commission of inquiry into the 12 days of violence that have killed 88 people, most Palestinians.

The shooting in Hebron broke out soon after sunset, marking the end of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. In other violence, shots were fired at the Jewish settlement of Efrat. In Hebron, an Israeli helicopter gunship hovered above the scene, but did not shoot.

In Tel Aviv, hundreds of Jews chanted ''Death to the Arabs,'' burned tires and smashed the windows of Arab cars, prompting the mayor of the usually tranquil metropolis to ask residents to stay indoors. In Jerusalem, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli motorists on a main road, making it impassable.

Earlier, Israeli army commanders said they were ready to increase the fire power if the Palestinians did not stop shooting.

''We will not let Palestinians kill another Israeli,'' said Col. Gal Hirsch, the army commander in the Ramallah region of the West Bank. Hirsch said his troops had held their fire for two days -- despite provocations -- to allow Arafat time to rein in his gunmen.

Clinton was not the only world leader trying hard to get Arafat and Barak to talk. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov were also shuttling in the region.

Before convening his Cabinet, Barak expressed doubt about whether the Palestinian leader was ready to resume peace negotiations and there were signs that Israel was uncertain about a summit.

Annan met briefly with acting Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, before holding talks with Arafat in Gaza. ''The action must shift from the street to the bargaining table,'' Annan told Ben-Ami.

Arafat had just returned from a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Shaath said Arafat had also taken calls from French, Italian, Turkish and Spanish leaders on Monday.

Ivanov's mission was especially focused on the situation along the Lebanese border: a militant Islamic Lebanese guerrilla group had captured three Israeli soldiers on Saturday, an act that Hezbollah guerrillas dedicated to the Palestinians. The Russian foreign minster was to hold talks with Ben-Ami later Tuesday.

Barak had threatened to respond ''with force'' and said he held responsible Lebanon and Syria, the main power there.

''The priority now is to stop the escalation, refrain from using force and resume the dialogue,'' Ivanov said after meeting with Lebanese leaders.

Fighting was sporadic over Sunday and Monday, which coincided with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. There were brief gun battles in the West Bank towns of Ramallah and Nablus, and settlers reported gunfire aimed at their vehicles as they headed home from Yom Kippur visits.

Near Nablus, where American-born Hillel Lieberman was found dead over the weekend, settlers descended on Arab villages and stoned houses. The Palestinians came out and threw back the stones, until the army stepped in to separate them.

AP-NY-10-09-00 2120EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 09, 2000


Does anyone really believe Arafat has any control over this chaos?

-- Uncle Fred (, October 09, 2000.

Ultimatums are always futile. They are an open invitation to war.

-- Loner (, October 09, 2000.

When all these world leaders are getting into the act, like Spain, Italy, Russia, France, Clinton, etc., with their last-minute phone calls and desperate maneuverings, you know the flash-point has been reached -- and, probably already passed.

-- Wellesley (, October 09, 2000.

Them ol' powder kegs can store powder for a long time, then they blow up. Look at Northern Ireland.

-- Buck (, October 09, 2000.

Nando Times

Strife spreads throughout Israel

By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel (October 9, 2000 11:22 p.m. EDT - In the worst civil fighting in recent years, Jews and Arabs attacked each other Monday in towns across Israel.

In Tel Aviv, Jews chanted "Death to the Arabs," burned tires and smashed the windows of Arab cars, prompting the mayor of the usually tranquil seaside metropolis to ask residents to stay indoors. Arabs in several northern Israeli towns threw stones at passing Israeli vehicles, damaging several, police said.

In a special televised message, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak appealed to Arabs and Jews to end the violence against one another.

"I call on all Israeli citizens to refrain from violence," Barak said. "To the Jewish citizens, refrain at all costs from injuring Arabs and their property. To Arab citizens, refrain from being led by an extreme minority that wants to bring down the portrait of life in this country."

"We are a nation that experienced much suffering as a minority throughout the world. Anyone who hurts a minority that lives among us, hurts the very core of our society," he said.

"This ugly cycle must end, it will leave scars that are not simple but it is within our power together to overcome them."

The night before, hundreds of Arabs and Jews had attacked each other with stones and fists in the streets of Nazareth, the town of Jesus' boyhood. Two Israeli Arabs were killed by rubber bullets fired by police.

As Barak spoke Monday night at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, or holiest day of the Jewish calendar, hundreds of Jews in Tel Aviv suburbs took to the streets in anger.

Three Arab-owned apartments in a mixed neighborhood were set on fire. Tires burned in the streets and protesters chanted "Death to the Arabs." Police and Israeli camera crews were hit with bottles and stones.

Many Israeli Arabs have joined in the protests that have engulfed the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past 12 days. Ten Israeli Arabs have been killed in clashes with police. The demonstrations have rattled Israeli Jews, who feel Israel's very survival could be threatened by an internal rebellion.

The capture of three Israeli soldiers by Lebanese guerrillas over the weekend also contributed to the atmosphere of mutual distrust.

Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai said he was having little success in arranging a meeting with Arab Israeli leaders from the neighborhood of Jaffa. "I am appealing to the residents of Tel Aviv to remain indoors," he said.

Tel Aviv, the secular and financial center of the country, has almost always been immune to the kind of ethnic violence experienced by those living in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In the Jewish hilltop settlement of Maale Adumim, outside of Jerusalem, thousands of residents threw stones at passing Arab cars down below. The town's mayor released a statement apologizing for injuries caused to a female Israeli reporter who was attacked by residents while covering the incident.

Police spokesman Ran Ofir said the scenes of violence in both Arab and Jewish communities in the north were extremely serious.

"We are talking about a very large outburst of violence. We are working to end the protests and at the same time we are working to calm tensions in the area," he said.

In the Arab city of Umm el-Fahm, dozens of young Arabs threw stones onto a main highway, damaging several cars and causing minor injuries. Police closed off several roads, including a key east-west highway in the north.

In Tiberias, a mostly Jewish city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, hundreds of citizens went on a rampage, throwing stones at the police and firebombs at their vehicles.

Similar incidents played out in Jerusalem and the West Bank between Jewish settlers and Palestinians.

Settlers entered 10 Palestinian villages in the northern West Bank, throwing stones at homes and cars before Israeli soldiers put an end to the incidents, said Ahmed Keshawi, a 28-year-old resident of Kifel Hares.

The Israeli army said shots were fired at the Jewish settlement of Efrat and on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli police car. There no injuries in either incident.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 10, 2000.

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