Israel warned over land seizures

Five Palestinians killed in gun battle as underworld bomb kills three in Tel Aviv
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The Independent Online

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia today warned Israel against unilateral moves, such as seizing parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying imposed solutions would only intensify the violent conflict.

"The fire will burn, the terror will grow," he said in his sternest warning yet.

However, Israel's leaders appeared increasingly determined to take action if peace talks fail, while insisting they will keep parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Five Palestinians were killed today when Israeli troops raidied a refugee camp. Palestinian sources said four of the dead were bystanders. Military sources said three militants were killed.

The fighting spread to a local cemetery, where militants and Israeli troops exchanged gunfire amid the tombstones, witnesses said.

In Tel Aviv, an explosion at a moneychanger's shop in a crowded business district killed three people and injured 12 wounded.

Police said the bomb was apparently the work of underworld figures. A suspected crime boss, Zeev Rosenstein, was among the injured.

The blast shook an edgy city but there was also a sense of relief when it appeared the attackers were criminals.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and top members of his government have said repeatedly in recent days that they planned to take unilateral steps if peace efforts fail.

Mr Qureia's comments marked the harshest Palestinian response yet to the emerging plan. "It would be a terrible mistake to try to impose a solution on us by force...If he (Sharon) wants to build a fence and use it to annex Palestinian land, this is unacceptable," he said.

"This will not help, this will not succeed, this will cause a disaster. You cannot build a fence on our land, to cage us like chickens and hope all will be well," the prime minister told Maariv.

"If you want a fence, go ahead. Build it on the Green Line. In this instance we are prepared to contribute to the building costs. But to come and expropriate our land, to build the fence on Palestinian land, put us in cramped cages and then run away? We will never agree to this," Mr Qureia said.