Monday 20 January 2003

Sharon rubbishes peace plan

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said an international plan for Middle East peace should not be taken seriously.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, he said he was only ready to accept the concept of a Palestinian state provided that Israel controlled its external borders.

Mr Sharon again stressed that he wanted Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat removed from any position of influence.

Israel has a general election scheduled for 28 January, when Mr Sharon's Likud will be challenged by Labour, whose leader Amram Mitzna favours immediate talks with the Palestinians.

Mr Sharon has adopted a hard line, demanding a full cessation of violence before any moves towards peace with the Palestinians.

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