Officials in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Bureau last night stated clearly that Israel’s patience in continuing the cease-fire in the face of Palestinian violence is coming to an end.

“Only Arafat and the Palestinian Authority will bear the consequences of the deterioration for which they are responsible,” said the statement. “Israel expects the international community to do what is necessary to persuade the Palestinians and Arafat to lay down their arms.”

“Even though Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire except in cases where lives are endangered,” said the statement, “the Palestinians are continuing – in contravention of the conclusions of the Mitchell report and despite calls by the prime minister – to carry out terrorist attacks, ever more vigorously.”

The statement points out that despite the terrorist attacks and the security dangers involved, Israel over the last few days has opened an additional crossing point for Palestinian workers, thus allowing thousands more Palestinians to enter and work in Israel.

As to the Mitchell report, it has become known that Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres support a settlement freeze and unequivocal acceptance of the report – in contrast to the stance of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The latter is of the opinion still that an interim formula could be reached which would allow Israel to continue construction in the settlements in a limited manner.

Meanwhile yesterday, American special envoy William Burns arrived in Israel and is due to meet today with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. The envoy is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

Yesterday an Islamic Movement conference, representing 56 Islamic countries, convened in Doha, Qatar, and decided to cut off all diplomatic contacts with Israel. The representatives were thus responding to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat’s demands[… ]

This article ran on May 27, 2001 in Maariv