Netanyahu's attitude and actions remind me of a traumatic experience I had as a small boy. I watched helplessly as an older kid--a truly sadistic bully--tormented a kitten. He would hold it under water for a time, bringing it up gasping and snorting just before it reached the stage of drowning. It struggled, occasionally managing to scratch its torturer with its tiny claws. That really made the bully mad, so he beat its head against the side of the barrel before holding it under again for increasingly longer periods until it finally expired. He felt justified.

I'm sure Netanyahu and his mouthpieces would have no trouble identifying that kitten as a terrorist. After all, it had acted violently against the hand that was drowning it--actually drawing blood!

Peace. John Worrell

Netanyahu pledges to continue with settlement building

JERUSALEM (Reuter) - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ceded nothing to Palestinians Wednesday ahead of a White House peace-saving meeting in five days with U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Asked if Israel had anything to offer the Palestinian leadership in return for stopping attacks on Israelis, spokesman Shai Bazak said: "First of all and as a first condition, the cessation of Palestinian terrorism -- and only then the continuation of diplomatic negotiations."

Bazak, the prime minister's media adviser, told army radio that Netanyahu would tell Clinton that Israel was unyielding in its resolve to build the Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem that has sparked 13 days of clashes.

He said the Israeli leader would arrive in Washington on Monday morning and return home the same night.

"We go to Washington with a clear desire of ours and I think the Americans to clarify to the Palestinians that if terrorism continues it will be hard to continue the peace process at the same time," Bazak said.

Clinton, involved in Israeli-PLO deals since the first was signed at the White House in 1993, pledged to get personally involved again Tuesday when he met Jordan's King Hussein in Washington.

"I'm prepared personally to do anything I can to get this process back on track and move it forward," Clinton said.

Palestinians demand that frozen negotiations resume not only on Israeli security needs -- but on all peace issues at once.

They complain that Jewish settlement building pre-empts the results of final peace talks yet to come on the status of East Jerusalem, which each side claims as its own.

In the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip Tuesday, two Palestinians were killed in explosions that Israel said were botched suicide bombings by the Islamic Jihad group aimed at Jewish school children.

Israeli forces also shot dead two Palestinians in separate incidents in the West Bank Tuesday. It was the bloodiest day of the crisis since a suicide bomber killed three Israeli women at a Tel Aviv cafe on March 21.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups that have killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings, said Israel was behind the blasts Tuesday and vowed revenge.

"The Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine denies any responsibility for the two suspected explosions yesterday and has no link at all to them," Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah al-Shami told Reuters in the Palestinian- ruled Gaza Strip.

The violence mirrored a war of words between Israeli and Arab leaders over the 6,500-unit Jewish housing settlement on an East jerusalem hilltop which Israel calls Har Homa and the Palestinians call Jabal Abu Ghneim.

"The building at Har Homa will continue," Bazak said. "He (Netanyahu) will say that to Clinton. He has said that to the whole world and he will say it again. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and we have the right to build in it."

An opinion poll of 509 Israeli Jews published Wednesday in the newspaper Maariv showed 52 percent backed continuing construction of the settlement.

Western officials said Washington was trying to put together a package of measures to defuse tensions. These would include accelerating talks on a final resolution of the 100-year-old Jewish-Arab conflict and an Israeli pledge to curb settlement.