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News Briefs

Israeli Settler Leaders Say Sharon Offered Unacceptable Deal


Leaders of the Israeli settlement movement said Tuesday that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had proposed dismantling seven isolated settlements as part of a plan of “unilateral disengagement” from the Palestinians.

The settler leaders said Sharon promised in exchange for their support to seek legislation banning the removal of more settlements before a final agreement with the Palestinians.

Sharon said that any report of such negotiations was false.

“I have no intention of legislating any law that would tie the government’s hands,” he said. He said his advisers had only just begun drawing up his plan.

The settler leaders said that they rejected the offer at a meeting in recent days with a representative of Sharon. Bentzi Lieberman, the chairman of the Yesha Council, the main settlers group, told Israel radio that the proposal amounted to “the unilateral transfer of Jews.”

A public fight between the settlers and Sharon could potentially serve the interests of both. For the settlers, it could signal the right-wing elements of Sharon’s government to stiffen their opposition to his plan; for Sharon, it could signal Washington that he has limited political room to maneuver.

Six Killed, Four Wounded in Iraq


Six U.S. soldiers were killed and four wounded, at least one critically, when homemade bombs exploded in two separate roadside attacks on Tuesday in central Iraq, military officials said. An Iraqi civilian was killed and several others injured in one of the bombings.

Also on Tuesday, a gunman opened fire on two cars carrying Cable News Network workers south of Baghdad, killing two Iraqi employees and slightly injuring a cameraman, according to a military spokesman and a CNN statement.

The bursts of violence came on a day when U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan SM ’72 announced that he would send a team to assess the viability of holding direct elections here in the next several months, provided that security and other practical arrangements were in place for that team.

Dan Senor, a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, said in a news conference here that the occupation authority was already working with some security experts the United Nations had sent to Iraq to arrange security.

The first bomb attack took place in Khaldiyah, 60 miles west of Baghdad, at 12:55 p.m. The bomb killed three U.S. soldiers and critically wounded another. One Iraqi civilian was killed and several others were injured. Soldiers arriving to help the wounded came under small-arms fire, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces.