Palestinian Policeman Killed Stalls Peace Plans


Friday, March 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


JERUSALEM (AP) - A Palestinian policeman was killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday, and hundreds of Palestinians burned an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a stone-throwing clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
A Sharon aide, meanwhile, confirmed that preliminary plans have been drawn up for a new Jewish settlement of 6,000 homes south of Jerusalem. The aide, Raanan Gissin, said construction would only begin in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Earlier this week, the government approved the construction of an additional 3,000 homes in a part of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.
Palestinian officials said such building plans hurt peace prospects. ``Sharon began his political life by putting obstacles in the path of peace. What he is doing now is placing further obstacles,'' said Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.
In the West Bank town of El Bireh, about 700 Palestinians burned a Sharon effigy and threw stones at Israeli soldiers who fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Eighteen demonstrators were injured by bullets and tear gas.
In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian policeman was killed in disputed circumstances.
Palestinian officials said 25-year-old Osama Salim was killed by Israeli fire during a gun battle near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom. The army denied it had a role in the death, or that there was an exchange of fire near Kfar Darom.
In all, 433 people have been killed in six months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, including 355 Palestinians, 59 Israeli Jews and 19 others.
Earlier Friday, Arafat spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Arafat called for U.S. pressure on Israel to end restrictions on Palestinians, said Arafat aide Nabil Aburdeneh. The Palestinian leader complained that the Israeli measures are causing great harm to the Palestinian people, Aburdeneh said.
Though some barriers have been lifted, many Israeli roadblocks are still in place, and Palestinians are banned from entering Israel, idling about 130,000 Palestinians who used to work in Israel. The Israelis say the restrictions are to prevent militants from planting bombs and carrying out attacks.
Late Thursday night, a small bomb went off near a row of restaurants in Herzliya Pituach, near Tel Aviv. No one was injured. At first police said criminals were responsible, but later said that it might have been a terrorist attack.
Also Friday, Sharon said in an interview that Iran has shipped rockets to Lebanon with a range long enough to hit the center of Israel.
Sharon charged that Syria is helping Iran in a massive airlift of rockets, arms and ammunition to guerrilla groups in Lebanon. ``This is a very dangerous development,'' Sharon told the Maariv daily.
``Iran is turning Lebanon into an international center of terrorism,'' Sharon warned.