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Israeli Troops Arrest 7 Hamas Members in West Bank Operation


Palestinian witnesses say Israeli troops have arrested at least seven Hamas members in a widening crackdown on the Palestinian militant group in the West Bank.

Witnesses say the military detained two city council members and other Hamas officials, including at least one woman, in the West Bank city of Nablus Tuesday.

Israel has said its crackdown is aimed at stopping Hamas from expanding its operations beyond the Gaza Strip. But Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says the Israeli raids undermine efforts by his government to establish law and order in the West Bank.

In other news, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner Tuesday said the European Union should play a greater role in the Middle East peace process.

Kouchner, in remarks before the European Parliament in Brussels, called for a European "roadmap" to help bring peace to the region and give the 27-nation bloc more weight in the process.

But the French foreign minister, whose country assumed the six-month rotating EU presidency this month, said his proposal is not designed to compete with the current U.S. peace plan for the region. He did not specify what such a proposal would entail.

Separately Tuesday, a Palestinian military tribunal sentenced two Palestinians to death by firing squad for spying for Israel. Palestinian officials say the men gave information to Israel that led to the deaths of at least two Palestinians.

The tribunal convicted the two men Tuesday of treason. One defendant remains at large. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must authorize the death sentences before they can be carried out.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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