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Peres, Arafat will meet, try to end Mideast violence
Five Palestinians killed in new fighting
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- As another day of violence ended in the Middle East, diplomacy pushed to the forefront as it was announced that former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, two of the men who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, will meet this week to try to stem the violence.
The announcement came on a day when five Palestinians died in new fighting in Gaza and the West Bank.
Hospital officials said at least 49 people, including a CNN correspondent, had been injured in fighting in the West Bank and Gaza.
So far, in more than a month of violence, at least 166 people have been killed, according to the International Red Cross -- 141 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs, and 12 Israeli Jews.
More talks, end to violence 'very urgent'
Peres, an architect of Israel's first interim peace accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, said he wanted to hear Arafat's view of the situation after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak dropped his objections to their meeting.
"I think we will set the date tomorrow," he told Israel Television on Tuesday, several days after the widow of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appealed in an open letter to Barak to turn to Peres for help.
Israel and the Palestinians must "resume negotiations and stop the violence," Peres said. "Both must be done simultaneously -- it is very urgent."
Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, shared the Peace Prize with Peres and Arafat.
CNN correspondent shot
In Tuesday's violence, four Palestinians were killed in a clash with Israeli troops at the Karni crossing point between Gaza and Israel. Another Palestinian was killed in a clash in Ramallah, on the West Bank. Elsewhere on the West Bank, there were clashes in Hebron.
The Israeli Defense Force said its troops responded with tank rounds and automatic weapons fire when its outpost at the Karni crossing was fired on. The IDF said the attackers used anti-tank weapons for the first time.
The CNN crew which arrived at the scene said the preponderance of fire came from the Israeli side as Palestinian militiamen and security forces took cover.
CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman was hit in the side by a bullet. The bullet entered his back and exited the front of his body near his waist. He remained alert and was taken to Shifa Hospital. Doctors said he had sustained a non-life-threatening injury.
The Karni crossing point -- where Israeli trucks bringing goods to Gaza drop them off and Palestinian trucks pick them up -- has become a flash point in recent days. Israel had moved up tanks near the location and fired shells at the Palestinians during the latest clash, CNN producers said.
Arafat tours damaged party headquarters
Arafat visited the scene of Monday night's attacks, condemning them and saying the attacks would not deter Palestinians from their efforts to form an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
"All of these attacks will not frighten even a single Palestinian boy from carrying a stone to defend Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine," said Arafat.
Both sides have claims on the ancient city, sacred to three religions. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, which includes many of the most sacred sites in the city, as their capital, while Israel -- which captured the eastern portion of the city during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war -- maintains that the city will remain forever undivided and under Israeli control.
Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said the attacks were a response to what he said were guerrilla attacks by the Palestinians.
"Since the Palestinians are beginning to wage something that approximates a guerrilla war, our helicopter attack was a signal that if there is (a guerrilla war), we have the answer to it," said Sneh.
One Israeli commander, Brig. Yaakov Zigdon, said, "We want to signal to the Palestinian Authority that we can hit almost anyone we want to, where we want to, when we want to. We know a lot about them."
Five people were injured in one of the helicopter attacks. A Palestinian spokesman said he feared the attacks would raise the levels of tension.
"The Israeli aggression against our people is escalating in accordance with Barak's plans," said Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, a senior Arafat aide.
Israeli, Palestinian going to Washington
Meanwhile, senior Israeli and Palestinian officials are heading to Washington in the coming days for consultations with senior Clinton administration officials. Officials also said discussions are under way aimed at arranging post-election Washington visits by Barak and Arafat.
Shlomo Ben Ami, acting Israeli foreign minister, is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other U.S. officials on Wednesday, while lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat is due to follow in the next several days. President Clinton is not slated to play a role in those discussions.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Palestinian negotiator says violence will stop if Israel withdraws troops
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