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December 6, 2001
0140 IST

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Israel suspends strikes against Palestine

Israel on Wednesday suspended its strikes against the Palestine Authority to give its leader, Yasser Arafat, a chance to rein in Palestinian extremists.

Suicide bombings over the weekend by Palestinian militants had left over two dozen Israelis dead. In retaliation, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had ordered missile strikes on Palestine in order to pressure Arafat to action against the extremists.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the authorities had acceded to a request by Arafat to give his police freedom to take action against members of extremist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"Arafat phoned me and said he wanted to take the situation in hand and complained that we are not giving him the chance," Peres said on public radio.

"I told him the situation depends on him and that in the next 12 hours, he could change (Israel's) attitude toward the Palestinian Authority.

A defence ministry spokesman confirmed that the army had suspended its strikes.

"We want to see what Arafat is doing. But we will continue to fight terror," Yarden Vatikay said.

Agencies

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