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The BBC's Stephen Gibbs
"Neither side, it seems, agreed to the other's specific demands"
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The BBC's Chris Morris reports from Jerusalem
"The conflict is rumbling on"
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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 23:56 GMT 00:56 UK
Mid-East talks resume amid clashes
Israeli police explode an unmanned Palestinian car in the West Bank
There are signs of a hardening of attitudes
The second security meeting in two days between Israeli and Palestinian officials in the presence of US representatives has brought little progress on ways to end eight months of violence.

All that has come out of the talks, at the Erez checkpoint on the Gaza-Israel border, is an agreement for lower-level meetings in the next few days.

Two women cry during a funeral service
Violence rages despite talks between security officials
Even as the talks got under way, Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian targets in the south of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources.

Just hours earlier, a car bomb exploded near a school in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya.

It was the fourth bombing this year in Netanya, including a suicide attack on a shopping mall two weeks ago, in which five Israelis were killed and about 100 were injured.

Little achieved

Israeli radio said that the security talks had ended "without any real achievements", adding that the Palestinians had rejected Israeli demands for an end to violence.

Gaza's security chief, Abdel Razeq Majeida, said he had passed a series of requests on to the Israeli side which included an easing of the blockade on the Palestinian territories.

"We are awaiting an Israeli response to our legitimate demands," he said in a statement.

The Israeli army imposed a closure on Palestinian areas early in the uprising against Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, in an effort to pre-empt bombings and other attacks by militants.

Palestinians say this policy amounts to collective punishment that is crippling their economy.

Jihad claim

An elderly man and a young boy were taken to hospital with light injuries and six other people were treated for shock from the Netanya blast.

Apartments being built on a Jewish settlement
The violence flared after Israel announced further settlement plans
Police helicopters searched for the bomber, whom a guard saw walking away from a white car parked near the school entrance minutes before it blew up.

In Beirut, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said it carried out the latest blast.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appealed for restraint amid mounting pressure from Jewish settlers to end the limited unilateral ceasefire he announced last week.

In a sign of their anger, a funeral procession for one of three Jewish settlers killed in ambushes on Tuesday was started from the street outside Mr Sharon's office.

Speaking after a meeting of his security cabinet, Mr Sharon said he would maintain the ceasefire, and he called for patience.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, echoed Mr Sharon's call for an end to violence, saying all parties must stop their attacks.

In another diplomatic move, Pope John Paul II has sent a senior envoy to Jerusalem to meet Mr Sharon and Mr Arafat to try to help broker a peace deal.

Americans cancel

In the meantime, a scheduled meeting between senior US diplomats and Palestinian negotiators has been cancelled.

US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and US Consul General Ron Schlicher called off the meeting after Jibril Rajoub, the West Bank preventive security chief, refused to attend Israeli-Palestinian security talks Tuesday night, a Palestinian official said.

Mr Rajoub refused to attend the talks in protest against the shelling of his house by Israeli troops two weeks ago, according to the official.

US officials declined to comment.

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See also:

29 May 01 | Media reports
Palestinian fury over settler homes
29 May 01 | Middle East
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27 May 01 | Middle East
Analysis: US back in Middle East mire
26 May 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
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29 May 01 | Middle East
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