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Europe Criticizes Israel's "Pure Repression"

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon travels to Washington to meet President George W. Bush. Europe criticizes both sides for failing to do more to bring peace to the Middle East.


Tears, but no talks

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon celebrated his first year in office with a trip to the United States to meet the ally he has most come to rely on in the 16 months since the beginning of the deadly battle between Israelis and Palestinians.

Diplomats say the hawkish prime minister will try to convince American President George W. Bush to sever ties with Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, with whom he refuses to negotiate.

The United States has been hesitant to do that so far, but has supported a suspension of negotiations until Arafat, trapped in the West Bank by Israeli tanks, does more to stop suicide and ambush attacks against Israelis.

German foreign minister steps in

The suspension of US activity in the Middle East peace process has made room for sometime middle east negotiator German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to involve himself once again. Fischer has received praise from Western diplomats for past attempts in getting both sides to work towards a cease fire.

On Tuesday, Fischer met with representatives from both sides in Berlin. The short talks with

former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and Yossi Sarid, the leader of the opposition Meretz party in the Israeli government and Arafat’s information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo and the Jerusalem Center for Media and Communication’s Ghassan Khatib, were "fruitful," Fischer said. But he didn’t elaborate.

America needs to stay in the mix

The Green foreign minister represents the European Union’s efforts in the region. Though there are different ideas on how to solve the conflict among French and German officials, there is a consensus that America’s hands-off approach is not helping things.

"Europeans are unanimous in not supporting the Middle East policy of the White House," French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told French radio. "We think it is a mistake to blindly accept the policy of pure repression conducted by Ariel Sharon."

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