Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, condemned the Ramallah raid saying it "proved that the Israeli calls for peace and security are fake.''

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"When both sides are willing to recognise reality and make compromises for their own best interest, not others, then the problem can get resolved"

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"The continued aggression will only lead to the destruction of all efforts aimed at realising peace,'' he said in a statement.

The West Bank operation came only hours before a meeting between Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Hosni Mubarek, the Egyptian president, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The two leaders were expected to discuss ways to restart Middle East peace talks and how to free an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian fighters.

Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip
in late November, but military incursions have continued in the West Bank.

During the raid in Ramallah, bulldozers and armoured personnel
carriers were seen driving through the central Manara Square, clearing cars out of the way.

The army fired smoke grenades, and at one point, an Israeli helicopter
fired, witnesses said. The Israeli army confirmed the helicopter fire, which it says was as a deterrent and in open areas.

After the Israeli military withdrew Palestinians went out onto the streets of Ramallah to demonstrate against the raid.

"There's a real seething anger here against the scale and the violence of this incursion," Al Jazeera's David Chater said from Ramallah.