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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
UN demands Israeli withdrawal
Israeli tanks in Nablus
Israel has imposed a total freeze on movement
The United Nations General Assembly has demanded an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns and cities and an end to violence against civilians on both sides of the Middle East conflict.

(The resolution emphasises the need) to ensure the safety of civilians an to respect the universally accepted norms of international humanitarian law

UN resolution
A resolution adopted on Monday night called for urgent help to relieve "the current dire humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian people".

Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer held talks with Palestinian officials in which he reportedly raised the possibility of a phased Israeli withdrawal from areas where the Palestinian Authority took steps to quell attacks on Israeli targets.

But, after several days of bloodshed, the violence continued on Tuesday with reports from Palestinian security sources that Israeli forces had killed two Palestinian gunmen near the West Bank town of Jenin.

One of the gunmen is reported to be a local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade militia in a refugee camp near Nablus.

Humanitarian crisis

The UN resolution - drafted by the European Union and Palestinian officials - was opposed by the United States and Israel, which said it was biased.

Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, Aaron Jacob, accused the general assembly of ignoring "the reality of a relentless Palestinian suicide campaign" and refusing "to allow condemnation of Palestinian terrorism".

The resolution calls on Israel's military to return to the positions it held before the second Palestinian uprising - or intifada - which began in September 2000.

Palestinians in Nablus
The humanitarian situation for Palestinians is "dire"
It stresses the need for unlimited medical and humanitarian access to Palestinian areas.

The conditions for many Palestinians, who have been living under Israeli curfew and other restrictions for months, are extremely poor.

A report by the US Agency for International Development suggests that 30% of Palestinian children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, and 21% from acute malnutrition.

On Monday, Mr Ben Eliezer announced a "total ban" on Palestinian travel in much of the West Bank, following a series of attacks by Palestinian militants.

In a separate move, the Interior Minister, Eli Yishai said he would strip Israeli Arabs of their citizenship for alleged connections to terrorism.

And a court ruling on Tuesday upheld Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of suicide bombers without warning.

It dismissed a petition by relatives to be given advance warning of demolitions to allow them to appeal against the decision.

This week, Israel demolished the homes of nine terrorist suspects - a practice which has been condemned by human rights groups.

Israeli proposals

According to Israel Radio, Mr Ben Eliezer has put forward a plan to withdraw Israeli forces from places where the Palestinian Authority takes control and prevents attacks on Israeli targets.

The eventual aim would be for Israeli troops to return to the positions they held before the uprising began.

Scene of Gaza attack
As talks were under way, Israel launched an attack on Gaza
The proposal would initially be implemented in Gaza - potentially allowing workers from the region to return to work in Israel.

Monday night's encounter between Mr Ben Eliezer and Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yahya was the highest-level publicly-announced meeting in two years.

Monday also saw an Israeli air attack on Gaza City to destroy what it said was a weapons workshop. The owner of the building said it was a car repair shop.

Palestinian sources said at least two people were injured in the raid in the Zeitouni district.

It was the first Israeli attack on Gaza City since an Israeli F-16 fighter plane dropped a one-ton bomb on a building there last month, killing Salah Shehada, a leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, and 14 other people.

Hamas has vowed to avenge Shehada's death with a series of deadly attacks.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Israel said the metal workshop was producing weapons"
The Jerusalem Report's David Horowitz
"Israel is asking Palestinian's to take control of security"

Key stories




See also:

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