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Arafat in London for Peace Talks
- Israel calls Palestinian leader 'unrepentant terrorist' as Blair bids for long-term solution

ISRAEL could emerge as the major stumbling block to the US/UK plan to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, as President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair look beyond the immediate future of the troubled region.

Blair meets Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in London today to discuss reviving the Israel/Palestine peace talks that have stalled in the last year, but the response to the visit from official Israeli quarters has not been positive.

"Even if [Arafat] changes his tune at this time, it is not because he has changed his views about Israel but because he wants to be in the good grace of America and the west in general," said Zalman Shoval, a top policy adviser to Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon. Shoval also labelled Arafat an "unrepentant terrorist," who was "the original Osama bin Laden."

The US and UK now appear to concur with a virtual worldwide consensus that solving the Palestinian question is the key in preventing the recruitment of generation after generation of Muslim militants desperate to take out their righteous wrath on the the West.

Today, Blair is only likely to offer Arafat the chance to re-engage with the Mitchell peace plan, a stitch-and-mend scheme that has so far failed to curb either Israeli military excesses or the Palestinian Intifada uprising. But it seems clear that the momentum is all towards the Palestinian cause, one reason being that Bush's Republican Party is less dependent on the electoral support of Jewish Americans than was the Democrat Party of his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

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