Israel Rejects UN Call To
Leave Palestinian Areas
By Ramit Plushnick-Masti

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian woman was killed in new fighting Tuesday as Israeli forces held onto positions in two Palestinian-ruled West Bank areas despite a renewed international demand for their withdrawal.
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- called Monday for an Israeli pullout from Palestinian areas and for Palestinians to end 13 months of violence.
Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said troops would not leave West Bank areas around Jenin and Tulkarm until Palestinian security forces agreed to restrain militants and prevent violence.
"There is a plan to withdraw. It has been postponed and delayed because of the current security situation," Gissin told Reuters. "People get killed, that's why we're there... Under these conditions we can't withdraw."
Later Tuesday, a gun battle erupted between troops and Palestinian gunmen in Tulkarm, Palestinian witnesses and medics said. They said Wafa Nasif, 29, was shot dead by Israeli fire as she sat in her home.
The army said troops exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen who were firing from buildings south of Tulkarm.
Israel reoccupied areas in and around six Palestinian-ruled cities in the West Bank after Palestinian radicals assassinated a far-right cabinet minister on October 17. It has withdrawn from four of the areas.
Palestinian cabinet minister Hassan Asfour condemned the appeal by the U.N. Security Council's five major powers for an end to the revolt against occupation, saying it justified "Israel's terrorist acts against the Palestinian people."
Asfour said the five Security Council members had missed a chance to restart long-stalled Middle East peace talks.
"I was hoping that the foreign ministers would ... attempt to put an end to the conflict, reiterating the need to end Israel's occupation," he told Reuters.
The United States has been trying to calm the violence to cement Arab and Islamic support for its anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, launched after the September 11 attacks.
A delegation of European Union leaders was to leave for the Middle East Friday to try to coax Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks and bolster relations with Arab states concerned about Afghanistan, officials in Brussels said.
Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb said Arab states and the European Union were seeking a Middle East peace plan.
"Huge Arab and European efforts are under way on the basis of (establishing) a Palestinian state on the horizon and at the same time declaring an initiative for peace negotiations," he was quoted as saying in the Jordan Times.

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