Negotiators have reached a deal to resolve the 38-day standoff between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
Israeli tanks headed towards Gaza Thursday, following the Israeli security cabinet's approval of retaliatory military strikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cut short a U.S. visit, returning to Israel to convene a cabinet meeting that is expected to decide how to respond to a deadly suicide bombing.
A suicide bomber killed at least 16 people in a pool hall in the southern Israeli town of Rishon Letzion Tuesday. At least 60 were injured, many of them seriously.
Efforts to resolve the 36-day-old standoff at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity stalled Tuesday after Italy refused to accept 13 Palestinian gunmen holed up inside.
Negotiators are reportedly close to a deal that would end the five-week standoff between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Israeli leaders and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat Friday cautiously welcomed calls for a Middle East peace conference.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat emerged from his embattled West Bank compound Thursday after being held there under Israeli siege for more than a month.
Six Palestinian men wanted by Israel were transferred from Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah to the town of Jericho Wednesday, according to published accounts.
The Israeli security cabinet voted Tuesday to block a United Nations inquiry into the fighting at the Jenin refugee camp, unless the UN complies with its demands concerning the scope and the composition of the fact-finding mission.
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