An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian militant have died in a shootout in the West Bank, further straining a three-month-old truce between militants and the army.

The Israeli army says the clash happened earlier Monday, while troops were searching for militants in a village near the Palestinian-controlled town of Tulkarem.

Also Monday, the Israeli cabinet upgraded an Israeli college in the West Bank to university status.  Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the upgrade was part of a plan to strengthen Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  Israeli building in the West Bank continues, despite the fact that the internationally-backed (road map) peace plan forbids such action.

Earlier, Israeli Cabinet minister Natan Sharansky resigned over Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.  He said the pullout would be "a tragic mistake" that leads to more violence.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP, Reuters.