Palestinian security officials who met with Israeli counterparts on Tuesday refused a US proposal and an Israeli demand to stop their struggle until Israel meets their conditions, including withdrawal from the occupied territories and a freeze on settlements, an unnamed Palestinian official who attended the meeting told Al Jazeera satellite channel.
Palestinian suicide bombers struck an Israeli army position, and gunmen from both sides killed four people on Tuesday, casting a shadow over US-brokered talks intended to end eight months of bloodshed.
Israelis and Palestinians held their first face-to-face security talks since late April, but Haj Ismail Jaber, head of Palestinian national forces in the West Bank told Reuters that "no progress whatsoever was achieved in that meeting."
Israel's central commander, Major-General Yitzhak Eitan, also took part. Another session was scheduled for Wednesday in Gaza.
Secretary of the Palestinian cabinet, Ahmad Abdul Rahman, told the station that such a meeting would be "a conversation between deaf people," as long as the Israeli occupation was not ended.
US envoy William Burns has been working since Sunday to coax the two sides into implementing an international report for ending the violence, and had persuaded them at least to discuss security coordination.
But a US statement in Tel Aviv said: "The continuation of violence threatens to overtake these efforts."
Hours earlier, a man with explosives strapped to his body blew himself up at an Israeli checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, wounding two soldiers but killing no one but himself.
Soldiers shot dead a second bomber who tossed grenades but failed to detonate his load of explosives during the attack, which was carried out near a cluster of Jewish settlements.
Al Jazeera reported that the village of Kufr Qallil near Nablus was shelled by the Israeli forces.
Earlier, two Israelis were killed, and three others wounded; meanwhile, a Palestinian was killed and seven others were injured by the Israeli occupation troops' fire.
In the West Bank, an Israeli woman was killed and four others injured in a shooting incident which took place near the Jewish settlement of Neve Daniel, Israel radio reported, cited by Haaretz newspaper.
A Palestinian died of injuries he sustained when an Israeli special unit opened fire at car passengers in Jericho earlier in the day.
The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, identified the victim as Ahmed Halilo, who was on the Israeli wanted list. Two others were injured in the ambush, while five Palestinian police officers were injured when Israeli troops shelled the headquarters of Palestinian National Security in Al Meghraqa neighborhood, reported Al Jazeera satellite channel.
The Israeli army reported that soldiers had fired on a group of men placing an explosive device on the road between the Martyrs and Muntar crossing points between Gaza and Israel, said Haaretz.
Earlier in the day, an Israeli was killed while he was driving in the village of Jitt, east of the settlement of Kedumim in the West Bank city of Nablus, reported Al Jazeera satellite channel.
Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the killing of Gilad Zer, a security officer of the settlement of Shomron.
Zer, who was seriously wounded two months ago when gunmen fired on his car south of Nablus, was shot in the head, and died of his wounds on the way to hospital, said Haaretz.
Since the outbreak of the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict last September, Reuters reports that Palestinians have killed approximately 88 Israelis with weapons ranging from stones and knives to machineguns and car bombs.
In the same time period, according to Reuters, Israeli soldiers and armed Jewish settlers have killed 13 Arab Israelis and 448 Palestinians with weapons ranging from machineguns and tanks to US-made Apache helicopter gunships and F-16s.
Jewish author Noam Chomsky, who according to a New York Times Book Review article is “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” has been quoted as saying: “State terrorism is an extreme form of terrorism, generally much worse than individual terrorism because it has the resources of a state behind it.”
SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION GOES ON
Despite international pressure to freeze Jewish settlement activity to promote peace efforts, the Israeli government said it would go ahead with building 700 more homes in the West Bank, said Reuters.
Palestinian anger over settlement building on occupied land -- illegal under international law -- has fuelled a Palestinian uprising that erupted last September when peace talks stalled.
RUSSIA LUKEWARM ON SUMMIT
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered traditional words of sympathy to visiting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, but responded coolly to his idea of calling an international summit to stop the bloodshed.
But he called on Arafat -- who has dismissed Israel's week-old ceasefire call as a propaganda ploy -- to "end those murders and killings and assassinations."
Arafat arrived in Moscow late Monday to urge Russian officials to play a greater role in the Middle East.
"The negotiators will debate Yasser Arafat's recent initiative for last year's Sharm El Sheikh participants to meet again, with Russia and the Mitchell commission represented," said Khairi Al Oridi, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, quoted by the Russian news agency, Novosti.
Asked about Israeli insistence on Palestine offering security guarantees, Al Oridi pointed out that Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and all other parties to the Mideastern process needed security on a par with Israel.
FATEH DENIES LINK TO KIDNAPPING OF FOREIGN JOURNALISTS
In a statemnt quoted by Al Jazeera, the Palestinian mainstream Fateh movement denied any connection with the kidnapping of three foreign journalists.
The three were released Tuesday after allegedly being kidnapped by the military wing of the Fateh faction, "Fateh Hawks," in the Gaza Strip.
They were kidnapped for about five hours.
A statement signed in the name of the group said that the kidnapping was a "message to US and British authorities."
"You have to bear the consequences of your biased stand with the Israelis," said the statement, published by the Palestinian Information Center.
The group threatened that "US and British nationals in Palestine and the Arab world will be subject to murder and kidnapping as long as the US and British authorities continue to support the killer Sharon."
Earlier, Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan, however, doubted that the Fateh Hawks were behind the abduction, said Haaretz.
Other Palestinian officials said "it was possible another renegade Palestinian group was using the Hawks' name - Albawaba.com
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