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Sharon Rejects Provisional Palestinian State - 2002-06-16


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is rejecting the idea of a provisional Palestinian state.

Speaking to his cabinet Sunday, Mr. Sharon said such a move is out of the question until the Palestinian Authority carries out basic reforms.

The White House has acknowledged that some kind of interim Palestinian state is one idea being considered in a broad review of U-S Mideast policy. Palestinian officials have also criticized the idea, saying they want a firm timetable to establish a permanent state.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces staged a brief raid into the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday -- their second raid there in two days. The raid ended with apparently no casualties.

Jenin and its refugee camp are considered hotbeds of Palestinian militant activity. Israeli forces have raided the area several times since a number of Palestinian attacks in Israel this March.

Meanwhile, Israel has begun building a long security barrier aimed at stopping Palestinian terror attacks. Bulldozers were at work at the Salem checkpoint in northern Israel Sunday.

The first phase of construction calls for a series of electronic fences, ditches and walls stretching 110 kilometers down the western border of the West Bank. Israeli officials say the barricade eventually could stretch to 350 kilometers along the "green line" between the West Bank and Israel.

Israel's defense minister says the barrier is being built strictly for security purposes. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat accused Israel of seeking to divide Palestinian territory and start what he called an apartheid system.

Some hard-line Israelis are criticizing the fence as well, saying it will jeopardize Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They also say the fence will become generally recognized as a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

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