2 Israeli Motorists Slain in West Bank

From Associated Press

Two Israeli motorists were killed by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank on Monday, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said an official cooling-off period that is supposed to precede peace talks will not start until such attacks end.

Despite the shootings and other violence, Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs met in an effort to preserve a U.S.-sponsored cease-fire plan. Palestinian security commander Jibril Rajoub said another meeting was set for Wednesday.

Israeli officials have complained about dozens of Palestinian attacks since the cease-fire went into effect Wednesday. In Amman, Jordan, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat said Israel has violated the deal by continuing to demolish houses, attack Palestinian areas and maintain blockades in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The cease-fire plan, negotiated by CIA Director George J. Tenet, called for an immediate end to violence. Israeli forces were to pull back from the edges of Palestinian areas and end travel bans. Israel has taken some steps, but the Palestinians say most roadblocks and restrictions are still in place.

A solidarity march for settlers was underway in the West Bank when word arrived of the first of the two separate shootings.

Police said Danny Yehuda, 35, was on his way home to the settlement of Chomesh when a Palestinian taxi passed in the opposite direction, made a U-turn, pursued Yehuda's car and opened fire.

According to the police, the shots killed Yehuda, and his car stopped. The taxi then pulled up alongside the vehicle, and the assailants got out and looked into the car. A 16-year-old passenger, who was wounded, feigned death, and the attackers left, said Rafi Peled, the Israeli police commander in the West Bank.

A faction of Arafat's Fatah movement claimed responsibility for the shooting.

After nightfall, Palestinians fired at a car near the settlement of Einav, near the line between the West Bank and Israel, killing an Israeli motorist, the military said.

In the Gaza Strip, a 16-year-old Palestinian wounded in a Sunday clash died, doctors in a Khan Yunis hospital said.

Last week's truce gives the two sides a week to carry out their basic commitments before the cooling-off period goes into effect.

But Sharon said Monday, "As long as there is no total cease-fire, the counting of the cooling-off period will not begin."

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