The Israeli army remains on the outskirts of most Palestinian towns. With all the intelligence they are gathering on Palestinian terrorist organizations, the Israelis have been able to go in and arrest more terrorist leaders and operatives. Each Israeli raid gathers more documents, weapons and bomb making material. Electronic eavesdropping and interrogation of people already arrested provide more information. While the terrorist organizations strive to reorganize, the Israelis try to keep up with the establishment of new bomb making workshops and staging areas for planning and preparing suicide bombers. So far this has greatly reduced the number of attacks on Israelis.
Meanwhile, the United States is pressuring Israel and the Palestinians to attend a peace conference in Europe within the next few months.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been allowed to leave his headquarters in Ramallah. This was arranged by the United States, after the Palestinians turned over six Palestinians wanted by Israel for complicity in the killing of an Israeli government minister last year. The six men will be kept in a Palestinian prison, guarded by Palestinians, but watched by unarmed American and British monitors. Also, Arafat has been warned that if he leaves the country, he may not be allowed to return.
The standoff continues in Bethlehem, although some unarmed people have been allowed to leave the Church of the Nativity.
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