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Israel Freezes Contact With New Palestinian Leadership

14 January 2005 -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today ordered all government officials to suspend contacts with the Palestinian Authority until the new Palestinian leadership reins in militants.

The announcement came after Palestinian militants in an overnight attack killed six Israelis at a border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Three militants were also killed.

Sharon's spokesman, Assaf Shariv, said there will be no meetings with new Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) "until he makes a real effort to stop terror."

There had been hopes of a revival of peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians following the recent election on of Abbas to replace the late Yasser Arafat atop the Palestinian Authority. Abbas was scheduled to be inaugurated as Palestinian Authority president on 15 January.

Abbas has denounced the attack in Gaza, which was claimed by three militant groups.