Palestinians mourn another death

Palestinian medical sources said Issam Ibrahim, 35, was shot dead during the clash with the Israeli army around a house in the village of Kafr Rahi, approximately 15 kilometres from Jenin.

Three other Palestinians were also injured. While one of them was taken to a local hospital, the other two were arrested by the army, the medical sources said.

The clashes broke out when Israeli troops surrounded the house of Yussuf Ibrahim, a relative of the dead man. Neither were thought to be wanted by Israel, Palestinian security sources said.

Earlier in the day, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said the two were trying to enter the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.

The recent deaths brought the number of people killed since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000 to 3,294, including 2,487 Palestinians and 747 Israelis.

Tuesday's death came hours after Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas called for resumption of dialogue with Palestinian groups while  reiterating pledges to crack down on the uprising against Israeli  occupation.

Abbas, speaking at a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, said: "We...underline our determination to pursue the dialogue with the movements which criticised us on this issue."

Resistance condemned

Speaking at a news conference, Abbas also denounced a series of clashes that left five Israeli soldiers and five Palestinian fighters dead on Sunday.

"We reject these acts and if they continue they will complicate the situation and make the peace process difficult," he said.

The Palestinian prime minister appealed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and ease the suffering of civilians due to crippling curfews.

"We demand President Bush complete what he started in Sharm El-Sheikh and Aqaba, alleviates the suffering of our people, starting with the prisoners.  Stop closures, end house demolitions, remove the shameful wall and dismantle settlements," said Abbas.

Hamas was quick to reject his call. Senior Hamas official Ismail Abu Shanab ruled out talks with Abbas as he had not "changed his attitude from Aqaba".

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammad al-Hindi welcomed Abbas' comments, but urged Palestinian officials to reject the premier's Aqaba speech.

Two days after the Aqaba summit Hamas broke off dialogue with Abbas, saying he did not represent the Palestinian people. The Palestinian premier was accused of being too conciliatory towards Israel at last week's Aqaba summit.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's latest comments in which he reiterated his hardline stance towards Palestinian refugees triggered a new war of words. 

Sharon’s statements indicate he has back-pedaled from the “road map”, said senior Palestinian aide Nabil Abu Rudeina.

Speaking at the Likud convention, Sharon said Israel would make no further moves in the latest effort to end its raids unless Abbas curbed resistance activities.

He reiterated his hardline stance towards Palestinian refugees, vowing never to allow any to return.