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Protesting Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Palestinians protesting Jewish settlement expansion clashed Thursday with Israeli soldiers throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In a separate attack, an Israeli soldier fatally shot a Palestinian motorist at an army roadblock after he allegedly tried to hit the soldier with his car.The marches, organized by the Palestinian Authority on what it designated a "day of rage," were intended to exert pressure on Israel's moderate prime minister-elect, Ehud Barak.

"It's a message from our people to Mr. Barak that peace with settlements is not possible," said Palestinian spokesman Khaled Khatib.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat fears Barak will try to reach a peace agreement with Syria before focusing on the conflict with the Palestinians.

Arafat also worries Barak will harden his position on settlements in an effort to lure pro-settlement parties into his government coalition.

Thousands of demonstrators marched to settlements and Israeli army posts, some hurling stones. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds, injuring at least seven Palestinians.

Palestinian police, some wielding batons, tried to keep back the crowds.

Earlier, an Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian motorist at a military checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of Yattir in the southern West Bank. The motorist died at an Israeli hospital.