Industry Minister Ariel Sharon said Saturday there will be no peace in the Middle East as long as Yasser Arafat "runs around alive" and that Israel must do more to counteract the PLO leader's peace initiative.
Sharon's comments in an interview with Israel radio reflected "a personal opinion that Arafat should be killed," his spokesman, Moshe Be-hagon, told The Associated Press. "He says many times that if it were possible, he would want to kill him."Also Saturday, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said U.S. officials support his peace plan, which includes elections in the occupied territories in exchange for a cease-fire in the Palestinian uprising, Israel television reported.
One Palestinian protester was reported fatally shot in the territories Saturday. Arab news reports said at least 10 people, including a boy, either were shot and wounded or beaten in clashes between soldiers and stone-throwers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The army confirmed four woundings by plastic bullets.
The death raised to 370 the number of Palestinians killed in the nearly 14-month-old uprising. Fifteen Israelis also have died.
Sharon's remarks come amid growing debate over the nation's policy toward the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel's response to the 13-month Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories.
"As long as Arafat runs around alive around us, there will never be peace," Sharon said. "No Arab leader will be ready to meet with us for fear for his life. And no Palestinian will be ready to talk because if he does so while Arafat is alive, his fate is sealed."
Israel denounces the PLO as terrorists and refuses to talk with it. The nation protested bitterly when the United States opened talks with the PLO last month. But there are growing calls for Israel to change its policy.
Rabin, a leader of the Labor party, said he has won support from leading U.S. officials for a peace plan he published last week that offers elections in the territories in exchange for a cease-fire in the uprising, Israel television reported.
The plan has been rejected by both the PLO and leaders of the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza.