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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 05:42 GMT
Woman bomber attacks Israelis
An Israeli soldier is rushed to Beer Sheva hospital after clash with Palestinians in Negev
The cycle of violence is hard to break
A Palestinian woman has blown herself up at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, wounding two Palestinians accompanying her and at least three Israeli policemen.

The attack occurred late on Wednesday on a road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, near the Jewish settlement of Maccabim, Israeli security sources and medical officials said.

One of the Israeli officers was seriously hurt, the sources said. Two Palestinians with the woman were said to be seriously injured. One report said they had died.

The latest violence overshadowed a Saudi initiative aimed at bringing an end to 17 months of violence in the region.

Shortly after the attack, Israeli forces fired two missiles at targets in the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank.

Troops later shot dead a Palestinian in Nablus, Palestinian security sources say. Israeli tanks were also sent into the town of Jenin.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli troops killed three armed Palestinians in a gun battle near the Egyptian border.

Israeli security sources said the Palestinians had crossed the border in the Negev desert.

A Palestinian employee also shot dead an Israeli factory manager on Wednesday in an attack that appeared to be politically motivated.

Saudi peace plan

The suicide bombing was believed to be the second such attack by a Palestinian woman.

The first was in January, when Wafa Idris, a 27-year-old paramedic, set off a bomb in Jerusalem, killing herself and an 81-year-old Israeli man. It was unclear, however, whether she blew herself up deliberately.

Israeli mourners carry the body of a factory manager killed by a Palestinian
Israeli mourners carry the body of a factory manager killed by a Palestinian
European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, is in Egypt to build on a peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah.

Mr Solana discussed the plan with the prince in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Wednesday.

The plan would offer Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land.

Crown Prince Abdullah says he will present his proposals at next month's Arab summit.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has welcomed the initiative and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has expressed interest.

Despite optimism raised by the prince's proposal, Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador bitterly attacked Israel in a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday evening.

"The objective of Israel was and remains to expel the Arab people from Palestine and to occupy even more Palestinian territory in order to set up an exclusive state," Fawzi Shobokshi said.

The BBC's Nick Childs
"The woman detonated explosives as she was getting out of a car"
The BBC's Orla Guerin
"The Saudi initiative is gaining momentum"
See also:

25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli president seeks Saudi talks
27 Feb 02 | Media reports
Saudi move stirs regional hopes
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