Arafat Aide Calls Freezing IDF Pullback 'Dangerous Action'

Israel's recent decision to postpone a gradual military pullout from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas was a "dangerous action," a senior aide to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat warned Sunday.

"The Israeli government is becoming unable to reach and implement any agreement signed with the Palestinian Authority," Nabil Abu Rudeineh told reporters.

He said that the PA was urging the quartet - representatives of the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations - to force Israel to finalize the "Gaza First" plan, under the terms of which IDF troops would withdraw from PA areas in return for a Palestinian crackdown on militants.

Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer decided Saturday to adopt a recommendation by senior IDF officers and halt a possible IDF pullback from the West Bank city of Hebron at least until the end of the Jewish High Holidays, some six weeks from now.

"First of all, we must deepen the effort [to halt violence] in Gaza and Bethlehem. It is pointless to move forward... unless there is quiet and the warnings [of further attacks] have stopped," Ben-Eliezer told Channel One Television.

"In Hebron there are still many warnings... We want to go about this process step by step... and not to jump beyond their capabilities," he said, alluding to Palestinian security forces charged with maintaining order where Israel has pulled out.

Meanwhile, security meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials will continue this week in an attempt to advance the implementation of the plan, security officials said Sunday.

Sheetrit says in favor of house demolition for East J'lem Hamas menJustice Minister Meir Sheetrit spoke out in favor of punitive action against four residents of East Jerusalem, arrested last week for membership of the Hamas organization, Army Radio reported Sunday.

Sheetrit, who said he was in favor of revoking the citizenship and demolishing the homes of the four, added that he would everything within the law to deter terrorism.

The families of two terrorists who carried out an attack at Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda Market in December 2001 appealed Sunday to the IDF legal adviser in the West Bank over a decision to knock down their homes in the Jerusalem-area town of Abu Dis.

Over the weekend, the IDF notified the families of Osama Mohammed Abed Baher and Nabil Mahmud Jamil Halabiya that it planned to demolish their houses and gave them 48 hours notice to vacate the properties.

Erekat: U.S. envoy won't push for Arafat ousterPalestinian Minister Saeb Erekat denied Israeli reports Sunday that U.S. envoy David Satterfield will be arriving in the region in order to pressure the Palestinians into replacing Arafat.

He told reporters that Washington informed the Palestinians that Satterfield would visit the region in an attempt to break the cycle of ongoing violence.

Israeli reports, however, said Satterfield's visit would deal with a proposal to replace Arafat and create the position of a Prime Minister in the PA.

The U.S. and Israel have been leading efforts for reform in the PA, which many see as blighted by corruption and bloated by bureaucracy.

The Israeli reports, Erekat said, were aimed at "undermining any effort to bring the Middle East peace process back on track."

IDF arrests 6 wanted Palestinians in Salfit; suicide bomber said detainedIDF troops arrested a suicide bomber and two accomplices in a village south of Jenin, Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying Sunday.

Also in Jenin, Palestinian sources said Sunday that three people were wounded by IDF fire. There were no reports on the condition of the injured.

In a separate operation Sunday, the army arrested six Palestinians on its list during an operation in the town of Salfit, north of Ramallah.

The army also arrested a wanted man in the Hebron area and a Hamas member in a village south of Nablus, whom it said was connected to the East Jerusalem-based Hamas cell captured a week ago which carried out eight terror attacks this year, including the bombing at Hebrew University in which nine people were killed.