Israel alleges attacks ahead of Bush visit

CONFLICT ZONE: Jewish settlers play tennis at the unauthorised West Bank outpost of Nofei Nehemya on Monday.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: AP

Atul Aneja

Dubai: As United States President George Bush prepares to embark on an extended visit of West Asia from Wednesday, Israel is stating that it has been subjected to fresh rocket attacks.

Israeli authorities said that two Katyusha rockets, fired from Lebanon hit the border town of Shlomi in the early hours on Tuesday. These rockets did not cause any casualties, but Israeli Army Radio claimed that a house was damaged and an electric pole was hit. Rocket attacks on Israel are a reminder of the 2006 war with Lebanon, where the Lebanese group Hizbollah fired thousands of rockets inside Israel.

In Beirut, the Hizbollah has so far declined to comment on the attack. A senior Lebanese military officer was, however, quoted as saying that the report of the strike was “baseless and completely fabricated.” Ahead of Mr. Bush’s visit, Israeli negotiators led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have been meeting a Palestinian delegation led by former Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, negotiations have resulted in the finalisation of a mechanism for resolving the Israel-Palestinian dispute.

This would include the formation of a special committee that would look at three key issues: the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees displaced by earlier wars and the alignment of final borders between Israel and Palestine.

Besides, separate committees will be formed to deal with remaining issues including security and trade.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will oversee progress of the negotiations. The developments in Iran are also expected to be high on Mr. Bush’s agenda.