Palestinian Negotiators Say They Canceled Meet With Israelis After Deadly Clashes

State Department denies report that meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, scheduled for Monday evening, was called off; Palestinian FM says 'no doubt' that deadly West Bank incident will affect peace talks with Israel.

Jack Khoury
Reuters
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Jack Khoury
Reuters

The U.S. State Department on Monday denied reports that a round of U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians had been canceled following clashes in the West Bank.

"I can assure you that no meetings have been canceled," State Department spokeswoman Mari Harf told Reuters. "The parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations," she said.

Earlier Monday, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the Palestinian envoys to the peace talks canceled a meeting with their Israeli counterparts. According to the official, the measure was meant to protest the deaths of three Palestinians from Israeli gunfire during clashes at the Qalandiya refugee camp earlier in the day.

No confirmation of the report could be obtained from Israeli officials.

Palestinian Foreign Ministry Riyad al-Malki commented on the matter during a press conference but did not state whether the meeting will be held as scheduled.

"We have made it clear on several occasions that the negotiations will be affected by policy and measures that undermine the process," he said. "There is no doubt that what happened this morning will have an effect."

Deadly clash

Three Palestinians were shot and killed Monday morning during the clashes with Israeli forces in a refugee camp near Jerusalem. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, said one of its employees, a 34-year-old father of four, was among the dead.

Credible reports say that [Robeen Zayed] was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest, said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness.

According to reports, a large force of the Border Police entered Qalandiya early in the morning to arrest a terror susepct. The officers arrived in commercial, non-military vehicles.

The troops said that once the arrest was made and they began making their exit, they were attacked by hundreds of Palestinians who threw stones and bricks.

IDF Artillery Corps troops stationed in the area were called in to extract the Border Police force. The troops asserted their lives was at risk and received authorization to open fire. Three Palestinians were killed, two were seriously wounded and eight were lightly hurt. According to the IDF, the injured individuals were in stable condition.

The men killed were initially identified as Rubin al-Abed, 28, and Yunis Jahjuh, 19, and Jihad Aslan, 19.

The soldiers said that they were fired upon, although none of them suffered injuries. Four bullet marks were identified on the security forces' vehicles after the clash.

"During a nighttime incursion of security forces to arrest a suspect in Qalandiyah, southeast of Ramallah, they were met with violent and disorderly conduct by hundreds of Palestinians who attacked them," an IDF statement said.

The military unit providing back up to the Border Police forces "worked to evacuate the officers, and when they felt immediate danger to their lives, they opened fire at the attackers," the statement said.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of the incident's implications.

"The continued criminal acts by the Israelis, alongside the continued settlement construction, expose the true intentions of Israel's government, and the actions it takes to foil the peace talks," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh. "I call on the U.S. administration to thwart the collapse of the negotiations."

The meeting scheduled for Monday evening was meant to be the fourth since the process was renewed. After the last meeting, which was held last Tuesday, Abbas said that an agreement was possible if Israel kept an honest position.

Palestinian militants march in the funerals of thee Palestinians killed during clashes at Qalandiyah Refugee Camp.Credit: Reuters
Funeral held at Qalandiyah Refugee Camp for man killed in clash with Israeli Border Police, August 26, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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