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Sharon gives Peres mandate to negotiate truce

Arafaft, Sharon.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, right, has given a mandate to Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to talk to Yasser Arafat, left.  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat may meet next week in an attempt to negotiate a cease-fire, Israeli political sources said Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Thursday gave Peres a mandate to negotiate a cease-fire and to push for the implementation of the Mitchell and Tenet reports, the sources said.

A cease-fire hammered out by U.S. CIA Director George Tenet is in shreds, and a blueprint for ending the violence and resuming peace talks -- drafted by a commission headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell -- has failed to take effect.

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Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke Wednesday with Arafat and Peres "to look to the prospect of their meeting," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

Meanwhile, more violence was reported in the region.

An Israeli man was shot dead and an Israeli woman was seriously wounded Thursday on the Israeli side of the Green Line, north of the West Bank town of Tulkarem, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The man and woman were riding in a car when they were shot at by Palestinian gunmen, IDF said. The Green Line is the common term for the line separating Israel from the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli TV quoted sources within the Fatah group's Al Aqsa Brigade who said the shooting was in response to an Israeli helicopter attack earlier in the day near Tulkarem, which left two Palestinians dead and seven others wounded.

According to Palestinian security and medical sources, the earlier incident happened when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a vehicle carrying Palestinian activists.

The IDF had confirmed it was tracking and seeking a car in an attempt to kill Raed El Karmi, a member of the Fatah movement's military wing.

Palestinian officials said El Karmi -- who had been responsible for a number of attacks on Israelis -- escaped with injuries.

El Karmi is on a list of Palestinian militants sought by Israel. Among his victims were two Israeli businessmen gunned down in Tulkarem in January. El Karmi told journalists last month that he killed the men.

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.

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