Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered a message to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian controlled areas. This message was sent as a special envoy, General Zinni, arrived in theMiddle East to help establish a truce between Israel and Palestine.

The State Department spokesman described this message as ‘blunt’and ‘tough.’ The message also stated that it would be bad for Sharon’s actions to undermine President Bushs’ current attempt to end the violence.

Bush has issued a stern reprimand to Israel, recently saying that the operationsundertaken by Israel were not helpful in creating peace. This, along with othersignals from the United States, demonstrates that the United States is unhappywith Israel’s action. For the last several months, the United States hasbeen giving Israel a green light, permitting any type of action against the Palestinians. The United States, in the past, had been only blaming Yasser Arafat.

Sharon announced on Thursday that his army would begin a staged withdrawalfrom Ramallah, the unofficial Palestinian capital in the West Bank. There werereports Thursday night and early Friday morning of Israeli tank movements. Any kind of withdrawal by Israeli forces, according to Israel Radio, would mostlikely take hours.

Israel appeared to be unsurprised by the message, due to the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney was touring Arab states in order to obtain support forAmerican action against Iraq.

As these games are being played, violence continues in the Middle East. A bombplanted by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip exploded under an Israeli tank, killing three soldiers. Two explosions in the West Bank, near Tulkarem, killed six Palestinians, four of whom are senior Fatah militia leaders. In Bethlehem, Palestinians killedtwo alleged collaborators.

Palestinians and Israel have said they are willing to work with the specialenvoy, General Zinni. An aide to Mr. Arafat, Nabil Aburdeineh, said that Zinnimust force both sides to accept the peace proposals.


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