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PALESTINIANS STRIKE TO MARK ISRAEL'S FOUNDING DAY

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories shut stores and businesses Wednesday to note the anniversary of Israel's statehood 43 years ago. The strike, ordered by the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas movement, coincided with a visit to Israel by United States Secretary of State James Baker III, on his fourth peace mission to the region in two months.

Hamas, one of two groups directing a 41-month-long Palestinian revolt against Israeli occupation, opposes Mr. Baker's missions and seeks the establishment of a Muslim state.

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Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli peace activists demonstrated Wednesday, accusing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of obstructing Baker's mission by allowing Jewish settlers to set up new mobile homes on Arab land in the West Bank.

``The government of Israel ... answered Baker with another slap in the face,'' said Naftali Raz, one of the demonstrators.