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    Israeli Settler Kills Alleged Palestinian Attacker in West Bank

    Israeli army officials say an Israeli settler shot dead a Palestinian man who they say attacked other Jewish settlers at a bus stop in the occupied West Bank.

    The officials say the incident happened late Monday near a Jewish settlement north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. They say the Jewish settler - who was armed - shot the attacker as he attempted to stab the other Israelis.

    The incident came after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Israel to stop expanding its West Bank settlements.

    Rice made the remarks in Jordan in response to Israel's announcement that it is planning to build at least 600 new homes in a contested area in the West Bank.

    Rice is in Amman for discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. She said talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are a step in the right direction.

    Rice, however, criticized Israel for continuing its expansion which violates the "roadmap" peace plan.

    The U.S. Secretary of State has been in the region for three-days meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials in a final effort to push forward a peace deal.

    Mr. Abbas says he fully expects to reach a peace agreement by the end of the year. The Palestinian leader said he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert soon, possibly on April seventh.

    On Sunday, Rice secured an agreement with Israeli and Palestinian officials - Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad - to ease some restrictions on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

    Israel announced it will remove 50 dirt roadblocks and one permanent checkpoint that restrict Palestinian travel between major West Bank cities. Palestinian officials promised to improve security in Jenin, although Israel will keep overall responsibility for the area.

    * edited 4/4/08 to clarify headline

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

     

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