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Israel: Peace Talks to Continue Despite Religious School Shooting

Israeli officials say peace talks with the Palestinians will continue despite an attack by a Palestinian gunmen inside a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem that killed eight people and wounded 35 others.

A spokesman with the Israeli foreign ministry, Arye Mekel, said Thursday's attack was aimed at killing chances for peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the attack.

Witnesses say a Palestinian gunman entered a crowded room at the rabbinical seminary, Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, Thursday evening and opened fire with a rife. An Israeli police spokesman says the attacker was killed on the scene.

Police said the gunman was a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem. Hezbollah's Manar television station says a previously unknown group called the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza claimed responsibility, but the claim could not be verified.

The attack follows weeks of escalating violence, with Palestinian militants firing rockets at southern Israel and Israeli forces killing more than 100 people in strikes on Gaza.

U.S. President George Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to tell him the United States "stands firmly with Israel" in the face of the attack.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Thursday, but could not agree on the wording of a statement about the attack. Libya, backed by several other council members, insisted any statement be balanced with a condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza. Other council members wanted the issues to be separate.

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli army said one of its soldiers was killed and three others wounded when a bomb destroyed their jeep along the Israel-Gaza border. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Palestinian medics say an Israeli attack in northern Gaza killed four Palestinian militants.

Egypt has begun talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, seeking a truce between the militant groups and Israel. The talks are being held in the Egyptian Sinai city of El Arish, three days after Israel ended a Gaza offensive that killed more than 120 Palestinian militants and civilians in an effort to stop near-daily rocket attacks on Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters