x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Palestinians accuse Israel of escalating violence to scupper peace talks

Israeli army’s killings of two people on the West Bank along with Israel’s continuing construction of settlements are undermining peace talks, according to the Palestinians.

RAMALLAH // The Palestinians on Thursday accused Israel of a “dangerous escalation” after the army killed two people in the West Bank, calling the violence a deliberate attempt to scupper peace talks.

Despite relentless US efforts to coax Israel and the Palestinians into reaching an elusive peace agreement, tensions between the two sides showed little sign of abating as the negotiations, which are scheduled to last nine months, limped past the halfway point.

The killings along with Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on territory the Palestinians claim for a future state are undermining peace talks, according to the Palestinians.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation aims to thwart American and international efforts to move forward with the peace process, and leads the negotiations to a dead end,” presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

His remarks were made after two Palestinians were killed in clashes sparked by separate arrest raids by the Israeli army in the northern West Bank.

Late on Wednesday, troops shot dead a member of the radical Islamic Jihad group and wounded several others in a confrontation in Jenin refugee camp, sources on both sides said.

The army said troops had gone in “to arrest a suspect” but opened fire after being attacked with gunfire, homemade grenades and explosive devices. Several Palestinians were wounded and one died on the way to hospital, the army said.

In a second incident shortly before dawn in Qalqilya, a Palestinian security official was shot dead during an exchange of fire with Israeli troops who attempted to ambush him, the army said.

They accused him of firing at troops “on numerous occasions” in recent weeks.

Palestinian security sources identified him as an intelligence officer and said he was on his way home when he was ambushed by the army.

Both men were laid to rest in their home cities yesterday morning.

The latest deaths raised to 28 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops since the beginning of the year.

“The presidency condemns the murder crimes committed by the Israeli occupation army,” Mr Rudeina said, calling on the international community to intervene to calm the situation.

Israeli deputy minister of defence, Danny Danon, said security forces were acting continuously in the West Bank to defend Israeli civilians against attacks. “I wouldn’t say this is an escalation. These type of operations are being carried every day, and most of the time we don’t hear about it,” Mr Danon said on Army Radio.

Agence France-Presse