JERUSALEM — Ariel Sharon will offer no additional land to the Palestinians and will insist on maintaining all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip if he is elected prime minister of Israel, according to a published report of his plans Thursday.
The details of front-runner Sharon's plans, revealed for the first time, were immediately attacked by his rival in the Feb. 6 Israeli election, caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Palestinian officials decried them as a "recipe for war."
And in another twist to the violence that has racked the region for 3 1/2 months, an Israeli teenager responding to promises of love over the Internet was lured to his death at the hands of Palestinian gunmen, Israeli security officials and television reports said Thursday.
The 16-year-old, who was identified as Ofir Rahum, had been missing from his home in the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon for two days. A bullet-riddled body discovered in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday, initially thought to be a Palestinian, was identified late Thursday as that of the teen, an army spokeswoman said.
"It seems he was having a virtual romance," a senior Israeli army officer said in a telephone interview Thursday night. "It was a trap."
The boy's friends told Israeli television that he was corresponding with a girl who identified herself as an American tourist in Jerusalem. The two agreed to meet, the friends said, and she told him to bring a large sum of money.
Once he got to Jerusalem, the girl, who apparently was a Palestinian, somehow persuaded him to accompany her to Ramallah, where he was killed by gunmen riding in a van who pulled up alongside the couple as they walked in the city, army officials said.
The army officer noted that the boy was one of about two dozen Israeli civilians who have been killed since the uprising began; more than 300 Palestinians have died.
Most of the slain Israelis have been Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank or Gaza.
Israeli and Palestinian officials condemned the killing.
Despite the continuing violence, the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat both announced Thursday that they are willing to enter "marathon" talks in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to strike a peace deal before the Israeli election. Arafat suggested that they be held in the Egyptian Sinai resort of Taba, site of previous negotiations, and Israel was to give its answer today.
The prospect of a Sharon victory may be one reason for the new willingness to negotiate. Polls--including new ones to be published today--give Sharon a commanding lead over Barak, whose hold on power has been eroded by failure to quell the bloody Palestinian uprising.
Sharon had been vague about what kind of solution he would seek with the Palestinians. A hard-line hawk, the 72-year-old leader of the opposition Likud Party strikes fear in the hearts of many Arabs and Israeli peaceniks. The details of his plans were published Thursday in the Haaretz newspaper and later confirmed by Sharon's campaign staff.
Under his plan, the Palestinians would essentially be left with the same territory they control now, about 42% of the West Bank and most of Gaza. The proposals floated recently by President Clinton would have given the Palestinians 95% of the West Bank, something Barak generally supported.
All of the more than 140 Jewish settlements that dot and dissect the West Bank and Gaza would remain intact and even be expanded under Sharon's blueprint. But there would be no new settlements. Barak had been prepared to evacuate numerous settlements, leaving others grouped in "blocks."
And there would be no yielding of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, another contrast to the Clinton plan. According to Haaretz, Sharon, who has steadfastly refused to shake Arafat's hand, would seek a long-term "nonbelligerency" agreement rather than a peace treaty.