TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) -- A double suicide bombing, the second deadly Palestinian attack in as many days, prompted a freeze Thursday on any further easing of the tight restrictions the Israeli army has placed on Palestinians in the West Bank.
A pair of Palestinian bombers blew themselves up almost simultaneously on a Tel Aviv street Wednesday night, killing three people. A day earlier, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a bus filled with Jewish settlers in the West Bank, killing eight.
Before the attacks, Israeli and Palestinian politicians were discussing scaling back the curfews and travel bans the Israeli army imposed a month ago in seven Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank. But the talks have been postponed and Israel's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said no restrictions would be lifted or eased for now.
In a statement issued after the bombing, Ben-Eliezer ordered "the freezing for the time being of a string of civil improvements that were approved in the fields of employment and trade for the Palestinian population."
The measures were not specified; however, Israel had said it was prepared to allow about 5,000 Palestinian workers to commute to and from Israel every day.
The curfews in the Palestinian cities, which were being lifted for about six hours every third or fourth day, are now being lifted for about 12 hours at a time. The new curfew policy, which began last week, remained in effect Thursday.
When the curfew is lifted, Palestinians may leave their homes, and most use the time to stock up on food. However, they cannot leave the towns, which remain encircled by Israeli troops even when the curfew is off.
There was no indication when the two sides might resume negotiations. "When the time is right, we will meet," said Noam Katz, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry.
After the army went into the West Bank towns on June 20, no Israeli civilians were killed for nearly four weeks, until Tuesday's shooting. The army says its close watch on Palestinian cities has made it more difficult for militants to carry out attacks. But the latest killings show they are still capable of evading the Israeli troops and entering Israel.
The Palestinian attacks this week came amid international talks in the United States on how to revive Mideast peacemaking. Many times in recent years, violent outbursts have occurred as talks were taking place, complicating efforts to make progress.
In Washington, the Bush administration is working with three Arab states in a bid to curb violence.
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