Israel - Palestine: Bumpy road to the peace talks

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Friday ordered all government officials to cut ties with the new Palestinian government until it curbs attacks, a day after militants killed six Israelis on the Gaza border.

"The prime minister has instructed all members of the government to cease all contact with the Palestinian Authority until they take the necessary steps to curb and stop terrorism," a senior Israeli official in Sharon’s office said.

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>Palestinian militants killed six Israelis in a bombing and shooting attack at the main commercial crossing into Gaza, reports the Daily Times.

According to the Xinhua News, coming just two days before &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Abbas is due to be sworn in as the new Palestinian National Authority (PNA) chairman, the attack, in which six Israeli civilians were killed, also showed that the temporary calmness between the two sides is fragile. Under the pressure of the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Abbas pledged to meet each other sometime later to revive the stalled peace efforts.

"Israel informed international leaders today that there will be no meetings with Abbas until he makes a real effort to stop the terror," Sharon's spokesman Assaf Shariv announced. For Professor Khalil Shikaki who leads the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the attack means that Abbas 'landslide victory in Sunday's polls does not necessarily reflect that a majority of Palestinians support ending the four-year-old Intifada (Uprising).

"Sixty-two percent support for Abbas does not in any way mean that 62 percent of Palestinians support ending violence directed at Israel," Shikaki said. "The public continues to be split in its attitude toward violence."

"Many of those who voted for Abbas did so even though they do not reject use of force. They voted for the whole package that the man presented to the public, which includes reforms, the elimination of corruption," he explained.

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