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The members of the Quartert will convene for an urgent meeting in Jordan later this month. Sources in Washington said the meeting, set for June 22 in Aqaba, is intended to put the peace process back on track and "save the road map."

An American delegation headed by special envoy to the Middle East John Wolf is due to depart for Jerusalem tomorrow in an effort to prevent further deterioration of the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

The delegation will include officials from different branches of the administration; their mission will be to hold urgent talks with the two sides in order to block any further bloodshed, according to the State Department.

Senior administration officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, insisted yesterday that, in spite of the spiraling violence, President George Bush and his government are commited to the continuation of the peace process and are intent on implementing the road map.

Outgoing White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Bush told his aides to continue their efforts in the Middle East and to reiterate, in conversations with leaders in the region, the U.S. commitment to the road map.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday that he called his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, and told him that "we must move ahead [because] it would be a disaster to miss out on this opportunity" for peace.

Meanwhile, U.S. government officials yesterday rejected calls to dispatch international forces to impose security and peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The notion of an international force in the territories has until recently been reserved for experts in academia and in the periphery of American politics. However, it was bolstered on Wednesday by a letter sent to Bush by the well-respected, veteran Senator John Warner, who is also chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Warner called for the dispatch of an international force, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), that would provide security and ensure momentum in the implementation of the road map.

The senator called for the NATO force to be sent at the "earliest practical time," assuming the two sides - the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority - asked for such a force.

U.S. officials said such a possibility, which has been considered in the past, is not deemed realistic - at least for the time being.

Israel diplomats in Washington said Israel and the United States agreed there is no justification or value in it.

Israeli trader murdered

An Israeli civilian from Netanya was murdered yesterday evening near Jenin, close to a village he regularly visited to trade in charcoal. The yet unidentified man is believed to have been killed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah at approximately 7 P.M., near the village of Ya'abed.

He had been warned by the police that there were plans by Palestinians to kill him but he persisted in visiting the village.

Palestinian security forces found the body and reported it to the Israel Defense Forces.

Ya'abed is in Area B, under Israeli security control, however the IDF has warned Israeli civilians to stay out of such areas because of increasing intelligence on plans by Palestinian militants to harm Israelis.