Palestinian militants kill Israeli teacher



EL BIREH, Occupied West Bank (AP)—In the latest assault on the Mideast peace process, Palestinian gunmen killed two Jewish settlers and wounded two others Wednesday as the victims stood by their broken-down car.

Two groups of Palestinian radicals opposed to the Israel-PLO peace accord claimed responsibility for the drive-by shooting in the West Bank, and settlers swore to retaliate.

The drive-by attack came a day after one Palestinian was killed and 65 wounded in the bloodiest unrest in the Gaza Strip since the accord was signed Sept. 13. Unrest in the occupied lands has escalated with the approach of a Dec. 13 deadline to start the turnover of control to Palestinians.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaking in Brussels, said every attack on Israelis is ‘‘a blow to the faith of many in Israel that it’s possible to come to peace.’‘

Rabin said Israel and the PLO should coordinate to stop the violence, Israel radio reported.

Shalva Osana, 24, a teacher at the nearby Beit El settlement, was killed and Yitzhak Weinstock, 19, a Jewish seminary student at the Eli settlement, critically wounded as they stood outside their rented Fiat Uno. Weinstock died later of his wounds.

Two other passengers were slightly hurt in the attack at El Bireh, seven miles north of Jerusalem.

The car, which had a problem with its exhaust system, was still up on its jack after the attack. There was a pool of blood behind the car and the victims’ blood-soaked clothing was piled nearby. Bandages were strewn about on the ground.

There were two claims of responsibility. The Muslim militant group Hamas proclaimed on loudspeakers in Gaza City that the attack was in retaliation for the Nov. 24 killing of Imad Aqal, head of the group’s military wing.

In Damascus, the Democratic Front, a radical PLO faction, said it was avenging the killing of Palestinians by Jewish settlers.

Both groups oppose the peace pact, which does not guarantee the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.

Settlers vowed reprisals, and some threatened to fire on Palestinian police who are to start patrolling the Gaza Strip and Jericho on the West Bank after Israeli troops withdraw.

‘‘The Arabs have reason to worry because they give full backing to the murderers,’‘ settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein said after a raucous meeting where settlers, some banging fists on tables, argued over how to respond to Wednesday’s killing.

Aharon Domb, a settler spokesman, swore to shoot any Palestinian police officer that he encounters after self-rule is established.

Early Thursday, settlers began blocking roads throughout the West Bank and Gaza in protest. The Settlers’ Council also urged Israeli soldiers and policemen Wednesday to refuse orders involving troop withdrawal and the creation of the Palestinian police force.

In Jerusalem, several hundred Israelis waved flags and threw a smoke grenade Wednesday night to protest the killing and the accord. Israel radio reported similar protests at four major intersections in and around Tel Aviv.

The escalating violence, combined with uncertainty about the future, is steadily eroding public support for the peace agreement on both sides.

Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur said the escalation was expected. ‘‘As we grow closer to the deciding date, acts against the agreement are liable to increase,’‘ he told Israel army radio.

The army sealed Gaza on Wednesday. In the Rafah refugee camp, hundreds of Palestinians marched to demand the release of Taisir Bardini, commander of the Fatah Hawks, the PLO’s military wing, who was captured Monday.

The demonstrators demanded the Palestine Liberation Organization suspend talks with Israel until Bardini is released.

Also Wednesday:

_ Two senior PLO officials boycotted an emergency meeting in Tunis on stalled negotiations with Israel, underlining the growing discontent with PLO chief Arafat among the movement’s highest ranks.

Arafat had scheduled the meetings after coming under fire for his handling of negotiations with Israel, PLO sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

_ Jordan’s King Hussein urged other Arab nations to reconcile with Jordan and form a united front in peace talks with Israel.

‘‘Everyone must overlook the wounds left over by the Gulf War, as well as various splits and fissures,’‘ said Hussein, whose pro-Iraq stance in the Gulf War alienated his traditional friends and financiers in the Arab world.

Jordan has signed an agenda outlining principles of a peace treaty with Israel. But on a visit to Syia last week, Hussein assured President Hafez Assad that Amman wouldn’t make a separate peace deal with Israel.