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Wandering Off The Mideast Road Map

Israeli troops blew up the West Bank homes of two Hamas suicide bombers Friday and searched one town for fugitives, as Yasser Arafat and leaders of his Fatah party started putting together a new Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Arafat's call for a new Mideast cease-fire is getting a cool reception in Israel, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger, while the the United Nations General Assembly scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The session follows the U.S. veto of a Security Council resolution demanding that Israel halt threats to expel Arafat.

Early Friday, soldiers demolished the house of Shadi al-Tubasi, who blew himself up at a cafe in the Israeli port city of Haifa in March 2002, killing 15 Israelis.

Also Friday, Israeli troops went into Rantis, a village north of Ramallah, and destroyed the house of Iyhad Abed al-Kader abu-Salim, a Hamas member who killed 8 soldiers in a Sept. 9 suicide bombing at a bus stop south of Tel Aviv.

Israeli troops in armored vehicles also entered the town of Jenin and an adjacent refugee camp on Thursday, taking over eight homes and conducting searches.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Palestinian police clashed Thursday with Hamas supporters after Palestinian security arrested seven Hamas members in connection with the kidnapping of a police officer a day earlier. Fifteen protesters were wounded, one seriously, and two Palestinian police were hurt by rocks, witnesses and hospital officials said.

Israel's renewed military activity in recent days in the West Bank and Gaza comes about a month after a unilateral truce called by militant groups in June collapsed in a spasm of violence.

The Palestinian prime minister-designate, Ahmed Qureia, has given Arafat and Fatah considerable say over the composition of his government. Qureia has said he wants to avoid confrontations with Arafat that helped bring down his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas.

Arafat's central role in forging the new governing team flew in the face of criticism from Israel and the United States, who charge that he is tainted by terrorism. Both nations are boycotting Arafat and want him sidelined from involvement in diplomacy.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Arafat's cease-fire call is a deception and a bluff.

"For 10 years this man has toyed with us and always gives, at the time he thinks is right, some empty peace gesture," said Shalom.

Shalom said the way to stop terrorism is not a cease-fire, but rather to dismantle terrorist groups. And no one in Israel expects Arafat to do that, reports Berger.

Arafat's standing among his people improved considerably following Israel's threat to "remove" him, leaving open the possibility of expulsion or assassination. Arafat and Abbas, who resigned Sept. 6, had been locked in a struggle over authority, with the veteran Palestinian leader refusing to relinquish control over security forces.

Arab and Islamic nations and the Non-Aligned Group of 116 mainly developing countries requested the U.N. meeting, which will consider the agenda item entitled "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory."

The General Assembly regularly passes resolutions supporting Palestinian positions. The Palestinian Authority has observer status but no vote in the assembly.

No country has veto power in the General Assembly, unlike in the Security Council, where the five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — each have that power. Security Council resolutions are legally binding. General Assembly resolutions are not, but they do reflect global opinion.

Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council, had pressed for a council resolution after Israel decided last week to "remove" Arafat in a manner and time to be decided. Israel blames Arafat for sabotaging the peace process and doing nothing to prevent terrorist attacks.

When the Arab-backed resolution was put to a vote Tuesday, 11 of the 15 Security Council members approved it. Britain, Germany and Bulgaria abstained, but the United States exercised its veto, maintaining the resolution was "lopsided" because it didn't condemn terrorist groups blamed for suicide attacks against Israel.