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Sharon urged to end cease-fire

Sharon's cease-fire policy has been criticised in the Knesset
Sharon's cease-fire policy has been criticised in the Knesset  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is coming under increasing pressure to end a unilateral cease-fire with the Palestinians, as violence continues in the Middle East.

During a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Wednesday evening, Sharon said his government's policy of restraint might not hold.

Sharon has been heckled in Israel's parliament for maintaining a cease-fire.

To add to the tension, Israeli Housing Minister Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post newspaper that Israelis should get ready to go to war.

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Sharon talks to the CNN World Report Conference about peace, Arafat and the Mitchell Report (May 29)

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CNN's Sheila MacVicar on what U.S. diplomacy hopes to achieve

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Full text of the Mitchell Committee's report (from the Meridian International Center website)

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Sharansky said action should be taken to wipe out what he called "the military and terrorist infrastructure" in the Palestinian Authority if the violence does not end.

Sharansky said: "I think we are at the end of the road; it is the last chance for Arafat to prove that he can still be a partner.

"I don't have a lot of hope. At some point we have to be willing to say we did not succeed, he is not willing to be our partner. Then you have to know how to fight and defend your people."

Sharansky said Israel is already in a war. "We are in a war where we are not using our strength," he said.

"Every day our people are being killed. I am not saying reconquer Gaza, but we need to fight will all the strength we have against the terror infrastructure."

Contact between Powell and Sharon came after U.S. envoys cancelled a meeting with the Palestinians earlier in the day.

A planned security meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials, with U.S. officials attending, did take place Tuesday night in Gaza.

Sharon faced a hostile Knesset Tuesday, with many members criticising his policy of continuing the unilateral cease-fire.

"The campaign is not only for security," Sharon said. "We must fight in the complicated diplomatic campaign and succeed in it."

Sharon is said to favor a piecemeal approach to implementing the Mitchell report's recommendations, starting with a cease-fire.

The Palestinians have said they want the full package of recommendations implemented at once.

As the political rhetoric between both sides smoldered, 63-year-old Israeli settler Zvi Shelef was fatally shot Thursday as he drove his car near the village of Baka el-Sharkiyeh, north of Tul Karem, on the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said Shelef was shot in the head and died while being transported to a hospital. She said initial reports indicated that the gunmen fired from a passing car.

• Palestinian National Authority
• Israeli Parliament
• Mitchell Institute
• The White House

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