Arafat, U.S. Officials Hold Talks

From Associated Press

Yasser Arafat met with a U.S. envoy and spoke to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Saturday, a day before the Palestinian leader was to confer with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in efforts to end more than nine months of fighting with Israel.

The discussions came as a month-old U.S.-brokered cease-fire was further shaken by continuing bloodshed and thousands of Palestinians calling for revenge against Israel at funerals for two Islamic militants killed in separate incidents Friday.

Jewish settlers and Palestinians clashed in the divided West Bank city of Hebron after Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers exchanged gunfire, according to witnesses. A 7-year-old Palestinian girl was wounded, hospital officials said.

In a 15-minute phone call, Powell and Arafat discussed regional developments and international efforts to end the violence, Arafat advisor Nabil Aburdeneh said.

Meeting with State Department official David Satterfield, Arafat urged the United States to set a timeline for the implementation of a peace plan recommended by an international committee led by former Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat.

Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to begin implementing the Mitchell plan after a seven-day test of the cease-fire that began June 13. The Palestinians have said the test period has been completed, but Israel says violence has not let up enough.

In the West Bank town of Tulkarm, about 8,000 Palestinians joined the funeral procession Saturday for Fawaz Badran, 27, an activist in the Islamic militant group Hamas. Badran was killed Friday when a car parked outside his electronics store exploded.

In Gaza, hundreds turned out for the funeral of Atef Tafesh, 23, a Hamas militant who was killed Friday by Israeli soldiers when he threw a grenade at a tank.

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