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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Two die in Hebron clashes
Israeli police inspect a car wrecked by a bomb in French Hill in Jerusalem
Three bombs went off in the French Hill area
Two Palestinians have died and at least 20 were wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Hebron on Monday.

The day began with four bomb explosions in and around Jerusalem, which slightly injured at least four people.

Israel retaliated against the attacks, with helicopter gunships firing on a Palestinian building near Hebron.


I tell him 'welcome', but the most important thing is: what are we going to discuss?

Yasser Arafat
The radical Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said they carried out the bomb attacks.

They said it was to avenge the assassination a week ago of their leader, Abu Ali Mustafa - the highest-ranking Palestinian official to be killed by the Israelis since the start of the Palestinian uprising.

The unrest came as the EU's senior foreign policy envoy, Javier Solana, arrived in Israel to try and help broker a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

Chances

Mr Arafat played down the chances of a meeting producing results.

Abu Ali Mustafa
Abu Ali Mustafa was killed a week ago
"I tell him 'welcome', but the most important thing is: what are we going to discuss?" Mr Arafat said.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Jerusalem says that even if a meeting goes ahead, few in the region believe a solution to the crisis is in sight.

Mr Solana had also been expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but the meeting did not take place.

Mr Solana was due to meet Mr Peres on Monday night and Mr Arafat on Tuesday.

Blasts

In Monday morning's violence, there were three explosions in the northern Jerusalem neighbourhood of French Hill.

One was a car bomb which injured two people, the other blasts caused no injuries, police said.

Another bomb in a parked vehicle went off in the Jewish settlement of Gilo, south of Jerusalem.

Two people were hurt in that blast.


Last week, Israel sent troops and tanks into the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Jala to try to end Palestinian gun attacks on Gilo, a settlement which Israelis regard as a Jewish neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

The Israelis withdrew after the European Union brokered a ceasefire.

Mr Solana, who is visiting the Middle East in the 12th month of the conflict, is aiming to build on the Beit Jala ceasefire.

Mr Peres has said he might meet the Palestinian leader at the weekend, when both are due to attend a conference in Italy.

But there is little hope of an immediate breakthrough, and Mr Peres has cautioned against heightened expectations.

The Palestinians are asking for an international presence at the meeting.

They also want a timetable for implementing the Mitchell Report, which calls for a ceasefire and confidence-building measures, including a freeze on the building of Jewish settlements.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Barbara Plett, in Jerusalem
"Everyone wants to avoid a public failure"
See also:

01 Sep 01 | Middle East
Palestinian official killed in car blast
30 Aug 01 | Middle East
Beit Jala: Winners and losers
29 Aug 01 | Middle East
Israel to leave Palestinian town
28 Aug 01 | Middle East
US calls on Israel to withdraw
28 Aug 01 | Middle East
Thousands attend Mustafa funeral
28 Aug 01 | Middle East
Palestinian shock turns to outrage
23 Mar 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Europe and the Middle East
27 Aug 01 | Middle East
Abu Ali Mustafa: 'Right to struggle'
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