Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Sharon gears up for a showdown with parliament


Israeli forces staged three pre-dawn raids into West Bank villages yesterday, killing two Palestinian intelligence officers and arresting 13 suspected militants as part of ongoing operations in the territory, the army said.

Israel's army last week completed a broad sweep though the West Bank that was aimed at rooting out militants, but the military continues to make brief, targeted incursions in pursuit of suspects.

In another development, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was expected to speak to parliament yesterday after 30 members of the legislature signed a petition calling on him to explain his policies regarding a future Palestinian state.

Sharon's Likud party ignored his recommendation and approved a resolution Monday that says no Palestinian state should be created. Sharon warned that such a declaration would invite international pressure on Israel, and said he would ignore the resolution and run the country's affairs as he saw fit.

Sharon says no negotiations on a Palestinian state will take place amid the current violence, but he has acknowledged that such a state is likely to emerge at a future date.

In the West Bank raids, the Israeli forces killed two men they had targeted in a car in the village of Halhoul, north of Hebron, residents said.

The head of Palestinian intelligence in the area, Khalid Abu Kheiran, was killed instantly, along with one of his deputies who tried to escape from the car. According to Israel, both men were responsible for multiple attacks against Israelis.

The army said they were killed in an exchange of fire, and witnesses said the men were in the car and pulling into the driveway of a house when shooting broke out. A third man was arrested and a fourth managed to flee, witnesses said.

The car remained parked next to the house the four men had been using as a hiding place for several months, witnesses said.

Later, at Abu Kheiran's funeral, Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers nearby. No injuries were reported.

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