Refugee return and peace appear
as far off as ever

Four year old Nabila Sulayman was critically wounded when an Israeli settler bus knocked her down as she was playing in front of her home in Bethlehem.

Muhammad Briya, 12, was also wounded in the Far’a refugee camp in East Jenin when the camp came under intense fire from the occupation army.

Israeli soldiers also invaded Qaiza in Salfeet on Monday, immediately arresting a number of residents.

The violence came as US envoy John Wolf, who is in the region to advance the peace plan championed by President George Bush, was holding talks late on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to Israel army radio.

Wolf was supposed to monitor the implementation of the roadmap for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but Sharon said in the meeting that implementation of the roadmap would be subject to the 14 reservations tabled by Israel, the radio station added.

Sharon obstinate

Speaking to the Knesset earlier, Sharon made no mention of the cease-fire effort in Gaza and said his government would “pursue and catch every initiator of terrorism and its perpetrators in every place and eat every time until victory.”

Meanwhile, Hamas - one of the organisations pushing for the end of Israel’s occupation by political and military means - rebuffed Egyptian mediators’ proposals for a truce with Israel.

After talks earlier in the day, top Hamas official Ismail Abu Shanab said it was premature to talk about a cease-fire. “Now is not a time for truce. It is a time for solidarity and standing united against Israeli attacks on our people,” he said.

Both Sharon and the Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas expressed their acceptance of the road map at the 4 June summit in Jordan, despite Israel later listing its reservations.

However, the map – authored by the US, EU, UN and Russia and which envisages a Palestinian state by 2005 – appears increasingly unlikely to achieve its first objective of stemming clashes.

About 2,400 Palestinians have died in the last 32 months has and the economy is in ruins.

Israel’s dead number a third of the Palestinian total.