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Saturday, 8 June, 2002, 21:54 GMT 22:54 UK
Bush: No timetable for Palestinian state
Israeli soldiers at the scene of the attack on Jewish settlers
Three Jewish settlers died on Saturday
US President George W Bush has rejected a call from Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to support a timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state.

We should give this man a chance

Hosni Mubarak on Yasser Arafat

Speaking to reporters after meeting Mr Mubarak at Camp David near Washington, Mr Bush said that while he would not set a schedule for a Palestinian state, "we have to get started quickly, soon, so we can seize the moment".

The talks came amid an upsurge of violence in the Middle East, as three Israelis were killed and four others were injured in two separate attacks by Palestinian militants on Jewish settlements.

Seven militants also died in the attacks and attempted strikes on Israelis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

'End siege'

Mr Bush expressed his exasperation with Yasser Arafat, saying he must do more to prevent attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank

But Mr Mubarak said of the Palestinian leader: "We should give this man a chance."

He added that Israel had to end its "siege" of the Palestinian people, as well as halting assassinations, incursions into territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority and the building of Jewish settlements.

Despite the disagreements between the two men, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Washington says this seems to have been a good natured discussion.

Both praised the other's contribution to the search for peace in the Middle East.

Mr Bush will welcome Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the White House on Monday, when the US president is expected to outline his own peace proposals.

Settlements attacked

In the West Bank, four Israelis were injured in an attack on the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, south of Nablus, on Saturday night, Israeli media reported.

Enlarge image Click here to enlarge map

A Palestinian gunmen who attacked the settlement was killed by Israeli soldiers and troops were searching for accomplices, Israeli military radio said.

Hours earlier, Palestinian gunmen carried out a nearly identical attack on the settlement of Karmei Tsur, near Hebron, killing a pregnant woman and her husband as they slept in their trailer.

Another man later died of his injuries, while armed settlers shot dead one of the gunmen as the other escaped.

An Israeli military spokesman blamed the Palestinian Authority for the attack at Karmei Tsur, accusing it of "doing nothing to prevent such terrorist acts".

Shortly afterwards, Israeli forces entered the nearby Palestinian-ruled town of Halhoul, and carried out house-to-house searches for the escaped gunman.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said it shot dead two Palestinians attempting to infiltrate the Jewish coastal settlement of Dugit by swimming ashore in what is thought to be the first Palestinian attempt to attack a settlement by sea.

The Israeli army said three other Palestinians were killed when a bomb they were trying to plant exploded near an electric fence separating Gaza from Israel.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"President Bush politely resisted"
The BBC's Jon Leyne
"Enormous differences of emphasis from the two leaders"

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See also:

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