- The Washington Times - Friday, November 9, 2001

JERUSALEM A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up when Israeli commandos stormed his hide-out yesterday, while a Palestinian official said Europe was working on an initiative to stop 13 months of Middle East violence.
Before daybreak, the Israeli border police special anti-terror unit stormed the building where the bomber was hiding in the West Bank town of Baka al-Sharkiyeh, just across the invisible boundary with Israel.
The Palestinian detonated the explosives, killing himself and wounding two commandos, said Lt. Col. Amos Yaakov of the border police. Police said they believed the bomber intended to blow himself up in an Israeli city.
The militant group Hamas said the bomber was acting on its behalf. It issued a statement identifying him as a 22-year-old student from the West Bank town of Tulkarem, saying the commandos were his target and pledging to "kill 100 Zionist soldiers in revenge against Israeli oppression."
Extra police roadblocks remained in place in Israel's north, where main cities near the line with the West Bank had been frequent targets of Palestinian suicide bombings responsible for killing dozens of Israelis and wounding hundreds over the past year.
In the south, Israel Radio reported that police were searching for three Palestinians it said were smuggled in from the Gaza Strip by an Israeli. Police would not comment.
On Oct. 17, Palestinian militants assassinated ultranationalist Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi at a Jerusalem hotel. Israel has accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of permitting Palestinian militants to operate freely.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio, "It must be understood that the Palestinian Authority, and especially Arafat, use terrorism as a strategy."
Ahmed Abdel Rahman, secretary-general of the Palestinian Cabinet, rejected Mr. Ben-Eliezer's statements, saying they were meant to discredit Mr. Arafat and distract attention "from the daily crimes that the Israeli army is committing against our people."
Mr. Arafat has said he is making a real effort to rein in the militants, but that he should not be expected to carry out large-scale arrests at a time when Israeli troops are raiding Palestinian areas.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath said European Union representatives had given a new Middle East peace proposal to the United States for review.
Mr. Shaath, in Washington for talks, said the first part of the plan calls for establishing a Palestinian state, ending Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and finding a fair solution for Palestinian refugees.
The second part deals with ending the violence by implementing existing agreements and sending international observers to monitor a cease-fire, Mr. Shaath said.
He said he expects the plan to be discussed in New York during the next week's U.N. General Assembly session.
Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Israel has not been informed of the initiative. He said Israel would not accept additions to existing peace formulas, such as the introduction of international observers.
Israel and the United States appear set to boycott an international conference next month aimed at upholding the rights of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, diplomats said yesterday.
In a statement, Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva rejected the meeting as a pretext to misuse humanitarian law as a "blunt tool for political attacks" against the Jewish state.
The conference, which Switzerland has called for Dec. 5 in Geneva, also would "undermine" Middle East peace efforts, Israel says.


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