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|Monday, January 15, 2001, updated at 22:11(GMT+8)|
Peres Asks Arafat to Reduce Violence During ElectionIsraeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Shimon Peres has asked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to reduce violence in the occupied territories, especially during elections, Army Radio reported Monday.
"We already saw what happened in 1996 when terror decided the election. In any case, terror must be stopped, especially at a time of elections," the radio quoted Peres as saying.
Israel's prime ministerial election will be held on February 6 in which the caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak and right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon will compete.
During the 1996 election, then prime minister Peres was leading challenger Benjamin Netanyahu by a 20 percentage points in opinion polls. But Netanyahu won the election by a slim margin following a series of suicide bombings that killed scores of Israelis.
The Israeli army said Monday it completely sealed off the Gaza Strip and closed the Gaza International Airport following the killing of a Jewish settler in the Gaza Strip Sunday night.
The body of Ronni Tsalah, 34, who was reportedly kidnapped from the Kfar Yam settlement and shot dead by Palestinians, was found early Monday at the town of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
The incident casts a shadow on the renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel has cancelled a meeting with Palestinian negotiators for diplomatic discussions on Monday due to the killing of the settler.
The Israeli and Palestinian security apparatus resumed cooperation last week after they reached a deal to reduce the violence on the ground and Israel relaxed restrictions on Palestinian-controlled towns and villages.
Diplomatic negotiations were also resumed in a bid to reach an agreement before U.S. President Bill Clinton leaves office on January 20 and the Israeli upcoming election on February 6.
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