JERUSALEM Ñ The United States has urged Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
to cooperate in the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The appeal came from U.S. President George Bush, who telephoned Sharon
on Wednesday. An Israeli government statement said Bush congratulated Sharon
on winning Israel's national elections and said the prime minister must work
toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"U.S. President Bush said that the elections were very important for
Israel and that it was now possible to continue implementing what Prime
Minister Sharon believes in," a statement by Sharon's office said. "Prime
Minister Sharon thanked U.S. President Bush and said that he would continue
to act towards implementing the plan that they have agreed upon."
The statement did not elaborate. But Israeli officials said the
reference was to an agreement by both men to cooperate in the formation of a
Palestinian state and the end of the Palestinian war against Israel.
Later, Sharon issued another statement that ruled out any talks with
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The statement said Arafat,
"who continues to finance, initiate, operate and dispatch terror, will not
be a partner for negotiations. Israel will be prepared to speak only to
those Palestinians who are not involved in terror in any way, shape or
Arafat has offered to resume negotiations with Israel and meet Sharon.
In Washington, U.S. officials said the White House and the State
Department plan to renew efforts to establish a Palestinian state. They said
Sharon has been urged to discuss the issue with Bush and Secretary of State
"He [Bush] discussed the importance of working for a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East, recognizing Israel's ongoing and vital security
needs, as well as the importance of the
creation of a Palestinian state that can live side by side with Israel,"
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Wednesday.