x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mideast peace talks cancelled after West Bank killings

??Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been cancelled after Israeli security forces shot three Palestinians dead during clashes in the West Bank.

RAMALLAH // Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were cancelled yesterday after Israeli security forces shot three Palestinians dead during clashes in the West Bank.

The talks were set to take place in Jericho in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said, but were cancelled in protest against the killings. It was unclear when the talks would resume.

But the US State Department, which is mediating the talks, insisted that no meeting planned as part of the ongoing peace process had been cancelled. "I can assure you that no meeting has been cancelled," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington.

Medics reported three Palestinians shot dead and 19 wounded by Israeli security forces in Qalandiya camp, between Ramallah and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, early yesterday.

"What happened today in Qalandiya shows the real intentions of the Israeli government," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

He called on the US administration to "take serious and quick steps" to prevent the collapse of peace efforts, which resumed last month after a three-year gap.

Witnesses said Israeli armoured jeeps entered the Qalandiya camp at around 3am and were met by stone-throwing residents. The Israeli forces responded with gunfire and left the camp before daybreak.

An Israeli police spokesman said a clash erupted when border police carrying out an arrest raid were confronted by Palestinians who threw firebombs and rocks at them. It was not clear if the Israeli forces made any arrests.

The dead have been named as Rubeen Abed Fares, 30, and Yunis Jahjouh, 22, both shot in the chest, and Jihad Aslan, 20, who died of brain damage.

Palestinian sources at the weekend said they expected a new round of talks to be held yesterday. But there had been no official confirmation from either side, in accordance with a news blackout imposed by the US, which brokered the new talks.

The talks have been overshadowed by Israeli plans to build more than 2,000 new homes for Jewish settlers on occupied Palestinian territory.


* Reuters and Agence France-Presse