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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 14:16 GMT
Dozens hurt in Mid-East protest
Palestinian police arrest Hebron protester
Dozens were detained after attending the Hebron protest
Police in the West Bank have clashed with mourners at a funeral for a man killed during protests against the Middle East talks in the United States.

Witnesses said Palestinian police shot into the air to disperse hundreds of mourners at the funeral in Hebron.

At least 24 people were reported injured, one seriously, and a number of people were arrested.

Later, Israeli and Palestinian leaders will begin peace talks in Washington to build on the Annapolis conference.

We are prepared to make a painful compromise rife with risks
Ehud Olmert
Israeli prime minister

President George W Bush - who hosted Tuesday's meeting - said the two sides were committed to reaching a comprehensive peace deal by the end of next year, and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The Syrian delegation at Annapolis said Damascus hoped the meeting - despite the difficulties and differing opinions - would constitute a point of departure for a peace process.

Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft have targeted a Hamas base in southern Gaza, killing two Hamas men and wounding more than 10 others, Palestinian officials said.


It is the second day of protests against the Annapolis meeting.

Palestinian critics, led by the Hamas militant Islamist group which controls Gaza, say the talks were convened to prop up Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and undermine their long-term aspirations.

In Hebron, security forces loyal to Mr Abbas fired in the air to disperse crowds at Hisham Baradi's funeral after Islamist protesters, including form the rival Hamas movement, started throwing stones at police.

Witnesses blamed Baradi's death on security forces, but the police have denied responsibility.

Traders shuttered their shops in central Hebron as protesters hurled rocks and police beat people with clubs.

Hospital official said three people were treated for gunshot wounds after Wednesday's clashes and more than 20 others for other injuries.

Mr Abbas's government, which holds sway in the West Bank having lost control of Gaza to Hamas in June, announced a ban on public demonstrations ahead of the Annapolis meeting.

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters demonstrated in Gaza on Tuesday against the talks.

One of Israel's fiercest critics, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has condemned the Annapolis talks, saying the Jewish state was doomed to "collapse".


President Bush has invited Mr Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the White House to ceremonially inaugurate the first direct peace talks since 2000.

Ignoring Hamas and the Iranian regime could increase their popularity in the Arab world
Shahram, Isfahan

He will meet each leader separately before getting them together for a joint session declaring the talks formally under way.

US officials hailed Tuesday's meeting attended by more than 40 countries and international agencies a success, after the low expectations beforehand.

"It's going to be hard, but you had support in that room [in Annapolis] that you had not had from Arab states in the past," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on US television.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed hold their first joint session somewhere in the Middle East on 12 December.

Last year's parliamentary election winner Hamas - which does not recognise Israel's legitimacy and has been shunned by the US and Israel as a terrorist organisation - immediately rejected the outcome of Annapolis.

"President Abbas went there alone; there is no mandate from the Palestinians inside or outside Palestine," said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in Gaza.

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