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Shooting in Israel Mars US Envoy's Visit


A Palestinian gunman was shot dead in the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba after he wounded several passersby near the town's police station. Despite the violence, U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni continues his latest attempt to arrange a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians. One of the key stumbling blocks is the timing of an Israeli pullout from Palestinian-controlled territories.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israeli radio there was no problem pulling the troops out of Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza. But he says Israel needs guarantees that terrorist attacks against Israelis will not resume.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says he will not talk about a cease-fire until Israeli forces are completely withdrawn. Israeli forces were redeployed outside three West Bank towns on Friday but not out of the West Bank altogether.

U.S. envoy Zinni is trying to narrow the gap enough to declare a cease-fire in the next few days.

Confusion reigned late Saturday night after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office issued a statement that the cease-fire talks would begin on Sunday.

The Palestinians were taken by surprise and said nothing had been finalized. A short time later the Israeli government backtracked and U.S. officials said simply it was premature to speculate on a specific date.

So Mr. Zinni continues his consultations with both sides with the goal of declaring a cease-fire in the next few days.

That would pave the way for negotiating its implementation and confidence-building measures outlined in the Tenet and Mitchell plans put forth last year.

The Tenet plan, named for CIA chief George Tenet, who brokered it, calls for an Israeli military pullout from the West Bank and Gaza.

But it also demands that the Palestinian Authority round up illegal weapons and curb militant attacks against Israelis. Palestinian officials have complained that Israeli attacks and the destruction of their security compounds have made that job more difficult.

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