JERUSALEM -- Under international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday gave his Palestinian counterpart more time to quell raging violence that has killed 88 people over 12 days.
But new violence flared in the Gaza Strip, where hospital officials said a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was critically wounded Tuesday by a live bullet to the head.
The Israeli leader's change in position, including a willingness to attend a U.S.-sponsored peace summit if one is arranged, came after two phone calls from President Clinton, Israel's army radio reported.
Barak said he made the decision after weighing the possibility of a prolonged armed conflict. A Palestinian uprising against Israel in 1987 lasted six years and ended with the first, historic peace accord in 1993 with the PLO.
"It is right to bear up for a few more days ... and not find ourselves in a few more weeks or months bogged down in a difficult conflict knowing that we may have been able to prevent it," he told Israel's army radio.
The sides were discussing -- through third parties -- a Palestinian demand that Israel agree to allow an international commission to investigate the events. Most of the dead have been Palestinians, and the Palestinians say Israel has used excessive firepower. Nabil Shaath, a top aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said a U.N. envoy was delivering a letter to the Israelis listing countries the Palestinians would accept on such a commission.
Barak appeared readier to compromise, telling Israeli radio he would accept an inquiry "under the authority and responsibility of the United States." Previously, he had said he would only consider submitting Israeli findings to the Americans for review.
Raanan Cohen, a minister in Barak's government, said the extension was only a matter of "one, two or three days," and apparently fearing more trouble, the government instructed the military to step up operations to protect Israelis.
"We will give a chance to those efforts," Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told CBS. "But the necessary, necessary, indispensable condition is that Arafat issue an order to his troops, to his militias, to his armed political movement -- a clear order: Stop the violence now."
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said it was up to Israel to take steps to end the clashes.
"We want to stop the Israeli army from continuing shooting Palestinians. We want to stop (Jewish) settler terrorism against Palestinians, and we also want to see the Israeli government stop killing its own (Arab) citizens," he told The Associated Press.
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