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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 10:45 GMT
Arafat backs new security talks
Javier Solana and Yasser Arafat held two hours of talks
The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has agreed to resume security talks with Israel after an appeal by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

The move came as Palestinians braced for Israeli retaliation after gunmen killed two Israelis and wounded a pregnant woman in the West Bank, and killed an Israeli policewoman and wounded seven other people at a bus stop in east Jerusalem.

UN draft resolution
End to all acts of violence
Return to positions held pre-uprising
Normal relations among all states in region
Israeli withdrawal from West Bank and Gaza
End to settlement building
Creation of Palestinian state
At the United Nations, Arab diplomats redrafted a resolution seeking an end to the conflict, which would recognise Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, a Saudi Arabian peace initiative continued to gain momentum when Israeli President Moshe Katzav invited Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to come to Israel discuss the plan.

No Saudi official has previously set foot in the Jewish state.

The Saudi plan, which is reflected in the Palestinian-proposed UN resolution to be debated later on Tuesday, calls on Arab states to recognise Israel in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The move has been welcomed by Palestinians and has brought cautious praise from Israel and the United States.

Renewed co-operation

Mr Arafat announced the resumption of security talks after a two-hour meeting with Mr Solana at the Palestinian leader's West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

Palestinians called off earlier plans to resume security talks

"This is a request from our friend, Javier Solana, and I cannot say no to Solana's suggestions," Mr Arafat said.

Palestinian officials say they will meet Israeli secuity officials later on Tuesday.

Palestinians suspended security talks on Sunday after Israel refused to let Mr Arafat leave Ramallah, where he has been confined since December.

Mr Solana called on Israel to lift all limitations on Mr Arafat's movements "the sooner the better", in order for him to work to prevent further militant attacks on Israeli citizens.

The EU envoy is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later on Tuesday.

The Palestinian leader said that he and Mr Solana had talked about the need for European as well as US observers to follow up the security meetings.

Threat of retaliation

Earlier, Israel said it was cancelling its offer last week not to initiate military action against Palestinian militants for a week after the attacks in Jerusalem and near the Israeli settlement of Nokdim in the West Bank.

Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the shootings

The radical Palestinian group, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to Mr Arafat's Fatah movement, said it was responsible for the attacks.

The Israeli prime minister's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, said Israel would retaliate in a "measured" way.

Violence also flared at Rafah on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt late on Monday when six Palestinians were wounded by Israeli tank fire, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

The BBC's Nick Childs
"The Palestinian leader at least had some good news for Javier Solana"
The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"The level of violence seems to be edging up again"
Jihad al-Wazir, Int'l Co-operation Ministry
"The only sensible option is to return to the negotiating table"
See also:

25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Fresh attacks target Israeli civilians
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli president seeks Saudi talks
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Arafat survives Israeli incarceration
26 Feb 02 | Middle East
Pregnant women under fire
26 Feb 02 | Middle East
Saudi peace initiative takes root
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