Beliefnet
JERUSALEM, Nov. 10 (AP)--Palestinians on Friday set tough new terms for a resumption of peace talks as four Palestinians were killed and an Israeli soldier was critically wounded in widespread clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, said the assassination of a West Bank militia commander wasn't just a one-time warning and that Israel would go after other gunmen if shooting attacks on Israeli enclaves don't cease.

The killing of Hussein Abayat, a regional commander of the Tanzim militia, "was meant to make this standard clear," Barak said during a tour of the West Bank's army headquarters. "Whoever hits us will be hit."

Abayat was riding in a vehicle when he was killed by a missile from a helicopter gunship Thursday. Two women bystanders were also killed in the attack.

The militia, linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, has threatened revenge. In a first retaliation, Palestinian snipers fired Friday on Israeli troops guarding Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem, part of the region Abayat commanded, and one soldier was critically wounded. Tradition holds that the biblical matriarch is buried at the Jewish shrine.

Four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in clashes in the West Bank town of Jenin and in Gaza. The Gaza deaths included two Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at the Karni and Erez crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

At least 185 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in six weeks of fighting.

A further escalation of violence could overshadow Barak's meeting with President Clinton at the White House on Sunday. U.S. officials have not specifically condemned the Israeli strike but have warned that violence would only beget more violence.

Barak, meanwhile, said it would be `"a little too far-fetched" to expect the talks with Clinton to result in a resumption of negotiations. First, he said, there must be a substantial reduction in the violence.

Arafat, who met Clinton on Thursday and went to the United Nations on Friday, said he was ready to attend another Mideast summit provided it was well planned and success was guaranteed.

However, senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia on Friday set new conditions for a resumption of talks.

Qureia said Israel would have to declare a settlement freeze; the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, China, Egypt, and Jordan would have to be brought in as mediators besides the United States; both sides would have to reaffirm that talks are based on U.N. resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from war-won land; and an international force would have to be deployed to protect Palestinians against Israeli troops.

The Palestinians have raised such demands in the past but never as a precondition for returning to peace talks.

"After everything the Israelis have done, it is very clear that this uprising will not stop" unless a Palestinian state is established or conditions are met for a resumption of negotiations," Qureia said.

Arafat went to the U.N. Security Council on Friday with his demand for a 2,000-strong U.N. force to protect Palestinian civilians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. Israel opposes such a U.N. force.

Near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian gunmen leading hundreds of rock-throwers traded fire with Israeli troops. Witnesses said Israeli tanks fired shells at an abandoned building from which Palestinians were shooting.

In Bethlehem, thousands joined Abayat's funeral procession. The march began in Bethlehem's Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity that marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Church bells rang for Abayat, a Muslim.

The 37-year-old Tanzim commander and father of seven children took a CIA intelligence course in the United States several months ago, according to Palestinians. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv would not comment.

Israeli troops later clamped a closure on Bethlehem and Ramallah, meaning Palestinians were barred from entering or leaving the cities.

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