"There is no Palestinian leader with the necessary courage or capabilities to fight terrorism," the prime minister said on Monday. 

"Accordingly no negotiations can take place with the Palestinians."

Sharon was speaking in a debate called by the opposition to draw out more details on his controversial plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, as part of a unilateral package of measures he has pledged to implement in the absence of any progress in the bilateral peace process with the Palestinians. 

No summit

He called off on Sunday a planned summit with his Palestinian
counterpart Ahmad Quraya, which was widely expected to take place as early as Tuesday, after a bomb attack in southern Israel. 

The prime minister told deputies that it was "clear that we will
have to prepare for any situation", but stressed that consultations on his plans were still ongoing with both the military establishment and his allies in Washington. 

"When the government decides, once such a decision is made, we will put it to the Knesset for approval," he added. 

"There is no Palestinian leader with the necessary courage or capabilities to fight terrorism"

Ariel Sharon,
Israeli PM

Sharon also pledged an unstinting campaign against Palestinian resistance fighters after Sunday's twin attack in the southern port of Ashdod that left 10 civilians dead as well as the two bombers.

Palestinian response

Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saib Uraiqat described
Sharon's decision as very unfortunate. "The language of
dictation has proven to be fatal and wrong since 1967," he said. 

"It is only the future of the Palestinian people that the
Israeli government refuses to talk to the Palestinians about,"
Uraiqat told Reuters, responding to Sharon's address.