Beliefnet
JERUSALEM, Nov. 19 (AP) -- Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that Israel did not intend to retaliate for the deadly attack on a soldier a day earlier, the latest sign that Israeli and Palestinian leaders were trying to reduce tensions and end seven weeks of fighting.

The violence has declined in recent days, but it has not ended.

On Sunday, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in clashes in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinians.

Also, an Israeli diplomat in Amman, Jordan, was slightly injured when a gunman fired on his vehicle, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. Yoram Havivian was treated at a Jordanian hospital and then returned to Israel, said ministry spokeswoman Yaffa Ben-Ari.

Havivian was slightly hurt in the arm and the leg, but it was not clear whether his injuries were caused by bullets or shattered glass from his car. Barak described the shooting as ``very grave'' and called on Jordanian authorities to arrest the attacker, who escaped.

On Saturday, a 21-year-old soldier was killed and two more were wounded in the Gaza Strip by a Palestinian policeman, who was killed by return fire.

Israel has a long history of swift retaliation when its soldiers or civilians have been attacked. But Barak told his Cabinet that Israel would not respond militarily at this point.

``Israel would make a mistake if it caused an immediate escalation, since there is no doubt that we would be accused of torpedoing chances for calm,'' Barak said in a statement issued by his office.

Barak's comments came two days after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called on Palestinian gunmen to stop shooting at Israelis from territory under fulll Palestinian Authority control. Arafat did not refer to land under Israeli control. Still, it was his first statement urging an end to violence from the Palestinian side.

Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz said there was no cease-fire order on the Palestinian side, but the Palestinian leadership was ``on the road to reducing its activities.''

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian security officials have been holding meetings, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Sunday. But the cooperation ``is far from being the level and quality it was'' before the fighting began seven weeks ago, he added.

On Sunday, Abdel Rahman al-Dahashan, 14, was killed when he was shot in the chest at a stone-throwing demonstration at the Karni crossing with Israel, Palestinian doctors and witnesses said.

The Israeli army, however, said it was not aware of clashes at Karni and did not shoot any live fire toward protesters.

As of Sunday afternoon, no major clashes were reported in the Palestinian territories, in line with the general decline in clashes in recent days.

The commander of Israel's southern forces, Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Samia, noted a marked decrease in attacks against Israeli troops, with five shooting incidents overnight in the Gaza Strip, compared to as many as 20 a night in recent weeks.

The Palestinians said Sunday that their security forces were trying to implement Arafat's call for restraint.

``The order means that there will not be shooting from all the areas that we control,'' Hisham Abdel Razek, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, told Israel radio.

But ``the popular intefadeh,'' or uprising, will continue until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian lands, Abdel Razek said.

The Palestinians have called for an international peacekeeping force, but Barak on Sunday reiterated Israel's opposition to such a move.

More than 230 people have been killed in the fighting, 200 of them Palestinians. The bloodshed began after the leader of Israel's opposition, nationalist Ariel Sharon, visited a disputed holy site in Jerusalem on Sept. 28. Palestinians say the visit caused the fighting; Israel says Arafat used the visit as an excuse to launch a violent uprising.

Sharon said Sunday that he would propose an early elections bill in parliament next week. Barak, meanwhile, met Sunday with the leader of the Shas party, Eli Ishai, in an effort to ensure Shas will not vote with the opposition.

Shas has agreed not to vote against Barak's coalition for the time being, a move that should allow his minority government to survive, at least temporarily. However, Ishai also held talks with Sharon on Sunday.

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