Murders test Mid-East deal

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PALESTINIAN security forces, trying to underline that they are co-operating with Israel, yesterday said they had arrested two men who confessed to killing a settler in Hebron earlier in the week.

Danny Vargas, 29, was buried yesterday amid calls from the far right for the abrogation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal signed last week.

Palestinian General Intelligence in Gaza said the men also admitted shooting dead an Israeli and seriously wounding another on 13 October.

The killing of Mr Vargas is the first test of the new relationship between the Israeli government and Mr Arafat since the Wye accords. In the wake of his death the Israeli army sealed off Hebron. On the outskirts of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians stoned Israeli troops yesterday in protest at the killing of Mohammed Zalmout, 65, a Palestinian bludgeoned to death about the same time as Mr Vargas died. Troops responded with tear- gas and rubber bullets. Police do not believe the two killings are connected.

Mr Arafat's first attempt to confiscate weapons ran into trouble elsewhere in the West Bank. In several towns Palestinians mounted a general strike yesterday to press Mr Arafat to execute members of the Palestinian military intelligence who shot dead a member of Fatah, Mr Arafat's own party, on Sunday.