Violence Continues to Undermine Truce

From Reuters

Israel reported new violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday and Palestinians told of revenge attacks by Jewish settlers as Washington struggled to save a cease-fire facing collapse after 10 killings in a week.

President Bush telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to urge them to honor the truce brokered last week by CIA Director George J. Tenet. Bush called on the two leaders to make an "all-out effort" to stop the violence.

The Palestinian Cabinet said Thursday after its weekly meeting that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's planned visit next week will be part of "an active and efficient U.S. role in putting an end to Israeli aggression on our people."

"The Palestinian leadership considers the return of the Palestinian-American contacts on the highest level as an important contribution to clarify the Palestinian position, both to the U.S. administration and to American public opinion," a Cabinet statement said.

Since the truce took effect June 13, six Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed, mortar shells have landed on Jewish settlements in Gaza and several dozen Palestinians have been wounded in confrontations with Israeli troops.

In Jerusalem on Thursday, dozens of settlers outside the prime minister's office urged Sharon to take tougher action and scrap his policy of restraint.

The prime minister told reporters, however: "There is no issue here of restraint. For all those who plan an attack, Israel is free to act and take all necessary steps."

In Ramallah in the West Bank, hundreds of furious mourners waving Palestinian flags attended the funeral of Mohammed Nafe, vowing to avenge his killing, Palestinian witnesses said. Relatives said Nafe, 30, was shot by soldiers Wednesday near an Israeli roadblock on his way home from work in Israel.

Also in the West Bank, Palestinian witnesses said a group of settlers burned two Palestinian cars Thursday in villages near where a settler was killed Wednesday.

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