Israel-Palestine: Steps toward "a new era of trust"

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Tuesday that despite criticism in Israel and among Jews in the United States, his plan to pull military forces and settlers out of the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank would proceed on schedule. But he also warned the Palestinians that more action was needed to stop attacks on Israelis.

Speaking to 4,000 applauding supporters at the annual meeting of the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mr. Sharon mixed determination to work for what he said could be "a new era of trust" leading to a Palestinian state with blunt talk that no state would be possible without security guarantees for Israel, informs the New York Times.

He spoke just as the Palestinian president, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas, was about to arrive in Washington for a visit of his own, including a meeting with President Bush. Mr. Sharon praised Mr. Abbas but said his promise to get control of Palestinian security forces and prevent attacks on Israel "must be translated into real actions on the ground."

Both Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to the internationally-backed road map peace plan, but neither side has taken any major steps to implement it.

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