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					RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- The Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers are standing firm in their commitment to the "road map" for peace, despite Palestinian militant attacks this weekend that left five Israeli soldiers dead. Both leaders are facing fierce opposition from within their own ranks, with Palestinian militants vowing to continue their attacks and Israeli right-wingers saying any concessions would be betrayal.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, in a news conference in Ramallah on Monday, condemned the attacks on Israeli soldiers and said he would continue to seek truce talks with Palestinian militant groups. Sharon, speaking to a meeting Sunday night of his Likud party, endured jeers and catcalls from right-wingers as he defended his moves toward peace. He told the audience that he would continue those steps. The Israeli leader, a longtime hawk, in recent weeks has accepted the concept of a Palestinian state, saying the "occupation" of Palestinian territories was bad for Israel. The recent peace efforts were highlighted by last week's summit in Aqaba, Jordan, between Sharon and Abbas. Rejecting the peace efforts, three militant Palestinian groups jointly claimed responsibility for an attack Sunday morning on an Israeli military checkpoint that killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded four others. Palestinian gunmen dressed as Israeli soldiers opened fire on the soldiers patrolling the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza, prompting Israeli soldiers to fire back, killing three of the gunmen, the Israel Defense Forces said. A senior IDF officer in Gaza said the gunmen were traveling with a group of Palestinian laborers on their way to work in Israel, Israel Radio reported Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the militant wing of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- claimed responsibility for the attack, in a telephone call to journalists and in a leaflet distributed in Gaza. Later Sunday, an Israeli soldier was killed in the West Bank city of Hebron as he searched for two Palestinian gunmen who had earlier opened fire on some border policemen. The two gunmen were then killed by other Israeli soldiers. The shooting emanated from the old part of Hebron known as Qasba, Israeli police said. The tomb is considered a holy site by both Jews and Muslims. In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Israeli Justice Minister Tommy Lapid called the attacks "very, very painful" and said he feared "that's not the end of it." 1

But Lapid said the attacks won't end the peace process. "The extremists, the fanatics are trying to destroy our effort," Lapid said, "and they will not succeed."

Militants had called off truce talks
On Friday, Hamas called off talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, who was trying to persuade the militant group to accept a cease-fire. But Abbas said he was determined to restart the talks. "There's no way to reach a cease-fire without continuing the dialogue," Abbas said. "We will not allow anybody to drag us into a civil war." Sharon's senior adviser, however, told CNN that Israel would not wait long for the Palestinians to act to rein in the militant groups. "When no real steps are taken to stop terrorist activity ... when no real action is being taken ... it leaves us with no other choice but to take the necessary steps in order to stop these terrorist activities," Ra'anan Gissin said. But Gissin said Israel, despite Sunday's violence, would honor all of its obligations reached during last week's summit, including the removal of illegal settlements. Media reports indicated that the Israeli government could as early as Monday begin moves toward dismantling some of those settlements.

Militants plan another meeting Monday
On Saturday night, the radical Palestinian factions had pledged to continue their armed intifada against Israel. Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi said Sunday that the attack on the Israeli soldiers proved that point. "We are all in the trench of resistance, we are all against surrender in front of the aggression of Israelis, we are all saying that resistance will continue, despite the summit of Al-Aqaba, Sharm elSheikh, saying that we are all against what the summit said to Palestinians, so it means that resistance will continue," al-Rantissi said. -- CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.

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11/26/2009 Jeff Benson Kevin Buck Staff Training 2

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First Name Pete Sarah Ben Brooke

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