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Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman Wednesday and urged him to prod the Palestinian Authority to curb attacks on Israelis.
Mofaz told Suleiman the defense establishment currently had six alerts of planned suicide bombings and that a wave of Palestinian terrorism was pending.
Security concerns also were at the top of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's agenda on his first day back at work after recovering from a mild stroke.
Sharon, who was released Tuesday from Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, worked from his official residence in Jerusalem, with much of his time devoted to the security situation. He met with Mofaz, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin and Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, and received pessimistic intelligence assessments that the Palestinian elections would lead to a spike in terrorism, an increase in Kassam attacks and an escalation of violence along the northern border.
In addition to this meeting, Sharon spoke on the phone throughout the day with political leaders from across the political spectrum as well as with foreign leaders such as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Sharon's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin, said the prime minister was "eager to return to work," but had cut down his workload and would return to his normal schedule gradually.
"There is no need to rush," he said. "Right now there is no major crisis or anything."
Gissin said it was not clear whether Sharon would spend Saturday at his ranch in the Negev - where he would rather be - or his official residence in Jerusalem, adding that this would depend on instructions from his doctors. Sharon is expected to attend Sunday's cabinet meeting.
In his meeting with Suleiman, Mofaz warned that the PA was losing control of the Palestinian areas, adding that this was "a situation Israel cannot accept."
"If the Palestinian Authority does nothing to halt the Kassam rockets and the suicide attacks, then we will know how to take the necessary steps to provide security to the citizens of the state," Mofaz told reporters prior to the meeting in his Tel Aviv office.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dispatched Suleiman to the region to "reduce tensions" of terrorist attacks against Israelis and ensure that the PA elections take place as scheduled.
Mofaz told Suleiman that intelligence indicated funding for Palestinian terrorist groups was still flowing from Damascus, and reiterated his desire to take steps to support and strengthen PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas before the PA elections. But, he said, he would not do so at the expense of harming the security of Israelis.
Suleiman assured Mofaz he would pressure the PA to restore calm and reduce violence.
From Tel Aviv, Suleiman traveled to Ramallah to meet with Abbas.
Defense officials, meanwhile, tried to downplay some of the fear-mongering in the media over the Kassam strikes, particularly those that landed harmlessly in the dunes south of Ashkelon near strategic installations.
Officials dismissed reports that Israel was considering cutting off electricity to the Gaza strip. Calling it a "grave step," Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the military/political and policy bureau at the Defense Ministry, said it was never a serious recommendation raised by the military.
Gilad said the PA paid 60,000 salaries a month to their security forces, but they were for all purposes "paralyzed" because there were no instructions coming down from the PA leadership.
"First of all, it is the Palestinian Authority that needs to install order," he said. "But they are doing nothing. This has wide implications. Is this even a government? Can they even exert their will? Can they prevent anarchy and crime? If not, then their weak image will deepen."
"At the moment it is an authority that doesn't impose its will and is reconciled with anarchy and violence in its territory and doesn't lift a finger to prevent terrorism," Gilad told Israel Radio. "And anyone who doesn't lift a finger to prevent terrorism should not be surprised when they ask for political concessions and they don't get them."
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