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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2005, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Sharon-Abbas summit is postponed
A Palestinian woman looks on as Israeli soldiers search for militants in the West Bank
Israel said it would carry out "unrestricted" strikes on militants
A summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been put off.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the meeting scheduled for 2 October would take place "only once the preparations... have been completed".

Israel had cancelled a preparatory meeting for the summit, after rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups.

Israel has continued its air strikes on Gaza, despite Palestinian factions declaring they would observe a truce.

Mr Erekat said the meeting was postponed after Israel contacted the Palestinian side.

"We don't want to meet just for the sake of meeting. We want a well-prepared meeting with an extensive agenda focusing on all the current issues," he said.

It comes on the fifth anniversary of a visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to a disputed religious site in Jerusalem, which sparked a series of Palestinian riots.

These riots and Palestinian frustration at the failure of the peace process triggered what became known as the al-Aqsa intifada.

Sustained attacks

Mr Erekat was speaking in Cairo, where Mr Abbas was holding talks with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Erekat said the Palestinian leader had appealed to Mr Mubarak to do everything in his power to restore the unofficial truce between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel launched more air strikes against the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, at sites it said were linked to militant groups.

Missiles struck buildings in Gaza City, knocking out power nearby, and in a refugee camp in central Gaza. Artillery was also used for the first time.

A youth centre and an office linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' movement Fatah were hit in Gaza City.

An Israeli aircraft destroyed a bridge in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, which the Israeli army claims was being used by Palestinians for their rocket attacks.

No injuries were reported in any of the strikes.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shut down 15 offices belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and suspected of distributing money to the families of suicide bombers.

Troops also arrested a further 24 suspected militants, bringing the total number of those held over the past few days to more than 400.


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