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|Wednesday, September 19, 2001, updated at 21:48(GMT+8)|
48-Hour Calm Period Has Not Begun: Israeli SpokesmanIsrael doesn't think that the 48-hour calm period has begun before Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could meet , a spokesman in the Prime Minister's Office told Israel Radio on Wednesday.
The spokesman said although the two sides reached a ceasefire on Tuesday, the Israeli government is not at all happy with continuing clashes on the ground since then, adding that the Israeli government wants to test whether Arafat's ceasefire order was serious.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon conditioned a proposed summit between Peres and Arafat on Arafat's ceasefire order and a 48-hour calm period thereafter.
Peres, a dovish figure in Sharon's national unity government, wants to use the occasion of meeting with Arafat to solidify the ceasefire implementation and discuss next steps to reconcile the Palestinians and Israelis after nearly a year of violence between the two sides.
Over 800 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in the conflict since late last September.
Arafat announced the truce on Monday and reiterated on Tuesday that his security forces would carry out a unilateral ceasefire, even if in case of continued Israeli military operations.
Later on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer ordered the Israeli army to stop all initiated military actions in the Palestinian areas and withdraw from reoccupied areas near the West Bank cities of Jenin and Jericho.
However, reports said that clashes between the two sides continued Tuesday night in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Islamic Jihad (Holy War), two radical Palestinian groups, announced that they rejected the ceasefire call by Arafat and would continue their fight against Israel.
Arafat reportedly will meet with his security forces' heads on Wednesday night to discuss concrete steps to strictly implement the truce.
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