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by white rose
Tuesday, May. 14, 2002 at 3:45 AM
Read the following and weep... say goodbye to the "peace process."
Israel's Likud Vote Further Blow to Peace Talks
Sunday May 12, 2002
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's ruling Likud Party dealt a further blow to prospects for Middle East peace talks by voting late on Sunday against any future establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The Likud vote came at a heated party convention in Tel Aviv and marked a victory for former Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a looming battle for the party leadership. The Likud vote also signaled a domestic battle for Sharon as Netanyahu attempts to win the leadership of the party before general elections scheduled for next year. Netanyahu, putting forward his position, said that for peace, Israel needed complete territorial control, a buffer zone to restrict movements of Palestinians, and to expel or dispose of Arafat. "It is clear now that we cannot reach any kind of solution at all with the Palestinians," Netanyahu said. Sharon himself has long been reluctant to deal with the issue of a Palestinian state. He told the meeting: "We do not deal at all with the Palestinian state now. It does not stand on the agenda of the day."
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the vote placed in danger any hope of an agreement. He said it showed the true intentions of Israel and would increase frustrations of Palestinians locked in a violent 19-month-old struggle against Israeli rule.
"How many Palestinians will wake up tomorrow to say 'we have nothing to lose'?" he told CNN. "I hope it will be an eye-opener to (U.S.) President Bush."
The vote strengthened the right-wing of Israel's Likud-led coalition government, which includes the Labour Party of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Sharon had told the assembled party members Palestinians must end violence and reform their political structures before he would allow any talk of them establishing a state. The party preferred the harder message delivered by Netanyahu, who vowed: "A state with all the rights of a state, this cannot be, not under Arafat, nor under another leadership, not today, nor tomorrow."
"The end game is now clear," Palestinian negotiator Erekat said. "This war is not against terror but to continue ruling 3.3 million Palestinians. It is very dangerous and I hope it will be an eye opener to the world to show them who we are dealing with."
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